Defense rests in trial of man accused of shooting motel guest
The defense rested Thursday in the trial of a convicted felon accused of shooting a man during a dispute at a Riverside motel, setting the stage for closing arguments.
Rodney Mitchell Meredith, 53, of Los Angeles is charged with two counts of firearm assault, as well as one count each of being a felon in possession of a loaded gun, possession of controlled substances, and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
Testimony in Meredith’s trial got underway last week at the Riverside Hall of Justice. The prosecution rested Wednesday.
Rebuttal testimony was expected Friday, possibly followed by closing statements, though Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mark Johnson could schedule them for Monday.
The defendant is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
The alleged attack happened in the predawn hours of July 28, 2020, in front of the Sands Motel on Magnolia Avenue, just north of the Riverside (91) Freeway.
According to a trial brief filed by the District Attorney’s Office, Meredith was staying in a room on the second floor of the motel and was drawn outside soon after the victim, whose identity was not disclosed, arrived with his wife to check into a room nearby.
The victim may have awakened the defendant, who emerged from his room angrily, exchanging words with the victim as he stood near the motel lobby, waiting for his spouse, court papers stated.
Meredith was captured on security surveillance video cameras walking down from his room in an aggressive posture, prosecutors said. However, he returned to his room moments later, without physically engaging the victim.
A few minutes later, Meredith returned to the parking lot, this time armed with a 9mm pistol, prosecutors allege. He brandished it at the victim, who ducked for fear of being shot, but the defendant did not fire, according to the prosecution.
“Approximately 15 minutes later, defendant is still confronting the victim,” the brief said. “Defendant walks in and out of his room … yelling and gesturing towards the victim. He marches toward the middle of the parking lot (and) fires the handgun in a southwest direction.”
The victim was struck in the left leg, according to the prosecution.
Meredith allegedly wrapped himself in a red blanket and fled the motel shortly before Riverside police officers converged on the location, the brief stated.
According to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback, a K-9 unit was summoned to search for Meredith, and the dog, “Maxx,” quickly picked up the defendant’s scent, leading his handler to the area of Magnolia and Skofstad Street, roughly three blocks west of the shooting, the police spokesman said. Meredith was spotted at a bus stop and taken into custody without incident.
The victim made a full recovery and would only tell police that he did not have a “beef” with Meredith, saying little else about the confrontation, according to the brief.
The defense maintains that the victim was confrontational and started the dispute.
According to court records, Meredith has prior convictions in Los Angeles County for assault with a deadly weapon and felony burglary.