Defendant in Merced robbery that led to suspect’s fatal shooting pleads not guilty

A robbery suspect whose suspected partner was shot and killed by Merced police nearly two weeks ago appeared in court Tuesday for his arraignment.

Nathan D. Jones, 24, pleaded not guilty to two counts of robbery, as well as charges of assault with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He denied numerous charging enhancements, including personal use of a firearm and a prior strike felony, according to Merced County Superior Court records.

His criminal history includes a 2011 robbery conviction. He was sentenced to two years in state prison and received a strike on his record, court records show.

Judge Ronald W. Hansen ordered Jones to return to court Thursday and scheduled a preliminary hearing for May 19, according to the Court Clerk’s Office.

Jones was arrested early April 26 during the series of events that ended when two Merced police officers shot and killed 27-year-old Kandice Honiker.

Efforts to reach Honiker’s family have been unsuccessful.

Merced Police Chief Norm Andrade has said Honiker pointed a loaded firearm at the officers and they defended themselves. Andrade also said he “stands by” the two officers who opened fire.

Neither officer’s name has been released and both remain on paid administrative leave while the shooting investigation continues, Capt. Bimley West confirmed Tuesday. This is standard procedure in such cases.

Investigators said Jones, joined by Honiker, used a 9 mm semi-automatic Beretta to rob two people between late April 25 and early April 26. Police said they chased the pair down the 1900 block of V Street, where their vehicle crashed. The two fled in opposite directions, and Jones was apprehended a short time later, police said.

Jones remains in custody without bail on a parole hold, according to booking records.