INDIO (CNS) – One of three men accused of robbing and beating a man outside a Cathedral City bar, rendering the victim comatose from ultimately
fatal injuries, pleaded not guilty today to attempted murder and robbery.
Michael Rios, 36, of Cathedral City, is accused along with Jorge Tapia,36, and Andrew Ponce, 44, of attacking Rolando Rodriguez last June 25 outside
the Block Sports Bar and Grill. Rodriguez died of his injuries on Oct. 26,sheriff’s Sgt. Michael Tapp said.
All three men face attempted murder and robbery charges, along with sentence-enhancing allegations of inflicting great bodily injury, causing a victim to become comatose. Rios was arrested Jan. 19 at a home in Cathedral City, while Tapia and Ponce have been in custody since July. Tapia and Ponce pleaded not guilty to the charges last year.
According to a D.A.’s spokesman, a coroner’s determination on the exact cause of Rodriguez’s death is still pending, but murder charges could still end up being filed against the men. Tapia and Ponce were taken into custody in Cathedral City just over a month after the attack, which occurred about 2 a.m. outside the bar at 68955 Ramon Road.
Following Rodriguez’s death, an ongoing investigation by Coachella Valley Violent Crime Gang Task Force members and officers from the Cathedral City Police Department led law enforcement to serve a pair of search warrants at a home in the 68100 block of Peladora Road, as well as a business in the
68400 block of East Palm Canyon Drive.
Rios remains held at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning in lieu of $1 million bail. He will return to court March 15 for a felony settlement conference. Tapia and Ponce are next due in court Feb. 23.