LUCERNE VALLEY, Calif. – An accused murderer was arrested in Salt Lake City last week on charges of murdering a man last month. John Sterling Payton, 49, of Lucerne Valley, was extradited back to California on June 5, then booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.
He was arraigned on Monday and is likely to show up in a Victorville court on July 1 for a pre-trial hearing, authorities said on Tuesday. Payton pleaded not guilty to all charges, including special allegations, according to records.
Payton, said investigators, is accused of murdering John Gonzalez, 50, of Lucerne Valley on May 12 shortly after noon. Sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence on the 9600 block of Santa Fe Fire Rd. due to reports that gun shots had been fired in that area
.When deputies arrived, they located Gonzalez who had already died at the scene. The Sheriff’s Homicide Detail was brought into the investigation, conducted by Detective Joseph Janomicz and Sgt. Chris Fisher.
The investigation led them to Payton, who was identified as the shooter, later being traced to Davis County, Utah, where he was arrested and booked. There has been no motive mentioned for the shooting. Authorities did not say if a weapon had been recovered. Also, they did not say how the shooting was connected with Payton, or how he was traced to Utah.
Authorities kept the identity of the victim quiet until next of kin was notified. Payton is being held on $1 million bail.
Lucerne Valley is located in the high desert about 45 minutes southwest of Hesperia and Victorville in San Bernardino County.
VictorValleyNewsGroup: Arrest made in murder