Crime and Courts

Man accused of killing homeless woman told friends he was ‘going hobo hunting': DA

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An 18-year-old man accused of killing a 68-year-old homeless woman in Serra Mesa by shooting her with a pellet gun pleaded not guilty Monday to murder.

William Innes was arrested last week in connection with the killing of Annette Pershal, who police found unconscious on the morning of May 8 on Sandrock Road. Co-defendant Ryan Hopkins, 19, who prosecutors say drove Innes to the crime scene, was also arrested and pleaded not guilty to assault with a deadly weapon.

NBC 7's Dave Summers found out how investigators were led to the victim after she was shot by a pellet gun.

After Pershal was found unresponsive, she was taken to a hospital, where it was discovered that she had been shot multiple times with a pellet gun, according to SDPD Lt. Jud Campbell. She died at the hospital three days later.

Deputy District Attorney Roza Egiazarian alleged in court that 20 minutes prior to Pershal's shooting, Innes sent a message to a group chat that included Hopkins.

The message read, "I'm going hobo hunting with a pellet gun."

The prosecutor alleged the pair then drove to Sandrock Road, where Pershal's encampment was located and Innes fired four to five rounds out of the car at the victim.

Pershal was shot in the head, leg, and torso, with one pellet rupturing her aorta, Egiazarian said. A search of Innes' home turned up a Gamo Shadow Whisper air rifle, which was allegedly the weapon used in the killing.

NBC 7's Dave Summers spoke to people who knew the victim

Hopkins and Innes were arrested last Thursday. Police did not disclose what led them to be identified as suspects in Pershal's slaying.

Both remain held without bail following Monday's arraignments, but Hopkins is due back in court Thursday for another hearing to contest his bail status.

His defense attorney, Vikas Bajaj, disputed the prosecutor's characterization of events and stated that the message allegedly sent by Innes was sent out 12 hours after the shooting.

Bajaj had argued for bail to be set at $25,000, but said after the hearing that he was "not surprised" San Diego Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein kept his client in custody without bail, "given the gravity of the attention that's been placed on this case" and the fact that a murder charge has been filed against the co-defendant.

Bajaj, who described Hopkins as "a typical teenager" and "a good kid with a warm heart," said his office would argue Thursday to have Hopkins released from custody with certain conditions.

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