The man accused of fatally shooting a 19-year-old near a Fair Oaks park in May will face a preliminary hearing in February, a judge ordered Tuesday.
Elijah Ray Lambert, 22, will return Feb. 9 to Sacramento Superior Court in the May 22 shooting death of 19-year-old Miguel Martinez, said Judge Allen Sumner. The scheduled February hearing will determine whether enough evidence exists for the case to proceed to trial.
Lambert was not present in court Tuesday. He remains held without bail at Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of murder. His attorney Byron Roope and prosecuting Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Thien Ho appeared for Tuesday’s brief scheduling hearing.
Martinez was wearing a bulletproof vest and hanging out with friends including Lambert outside Bannister Park the night of May 22 when Lambert reportedly told Martinez he wanted to test the vest’s reliability, according to Martinez’s older brother, Thomas Cline. Cline, interviewed by The Sacramento Bee in the days after his younger brother’s death, cited witness accounts in the interview and said Lambert reportedly told Martinez “Don’t worry, bro” before pulling a weapon and firing the fatal shot. Martinez died at the scene.
Witnesses had initially told deputies that Martinez had been robbed by unknown people, an allegation later proved false, said Sacramento County sheriff’s officials.
Sheriff’s officials later said they believe Lambert did not intend to kill Martinez, but that Martinez’s death was “a consequence of his actions.”
Prosecutors allege the shot was fired from a .22-caliber handgun. Lambert, who was convicted of robbery in 2009 while a juvenile, also faces a charge of using a firearm as a felon.