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Driver Pleads Guilty in Homeless Woman’s Death in San Diego

Driver Pleads Guilty in Homeless Woman’s Death in San Diego

File photograph of a judge's gavel. (Andrew Harnik/Pool/Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

8/24/2023

Updated: 8/24/2023

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SAN DIEGO—A 19-year-old man whom prosecutors say drove the alleged killer of a homeless woman to the Serra Mesa location where she was fatally shot with a pellet gun pleaded guilty on Aug. 24 to assault with a deadly weapon.
Ryan Hopkins faces up to three years in state prison for his role in the shooting of 68-year-old Annette Pershal, whom police found unconscious on the morning of May 8 on Sandrock Road.
Ms. Pershal was shot in her head, leg, and torso, with one pellet rupturing her aorta, according to Deputy District Attorney Roza Egiazarian. She died in a hospital three days later.
Prosecutors say Mr. Hopkins drove 18-year-old co-defendant William Innes to the scene after Mr. Innes allegedly announced over a group chat “I’m going hobo hunting with a pellet gun.”
Mr. Innes is charged with murder and various firearm-related counts and remains in custody without bail. Mr. Hopkins is out of custody on $75,000 bail and is slated to return to court for an Oct. 27 sentencing hearing.
Mr. Hopkins’ defense attorney, Vikas Bajaj, said after his client’s change of plea hearing that Mr. Hopkins “made a series of uninformed decisions and found himself looking at a very serious felony as a person who doesn’t have a criminal history.”
Mr. Bajaj said Mr. Hopkins has “a warm and caring heart” and indicated he will argue for a sentence of probation.
“I believe nothing greater than probation is the right result. ... Many people have made horrible decisions when we’re much younger,” Mr. Bajaj said. “This is what you would say is a classic case of aberrant behavior. A singular bad decision that is exacerbated by the criminal actions of another that then put him in the position as an unfortunate felon defendant.”
According to Ms. Egiazarian, Mr. Innes sent the “hobo hunting” message 20 minutes before Ms. Pershal was shot.
The prosecutor alleged the pair then drove to Sandrock Road, where Ms. Pershal’s encampment was located and Mr. Innes fired four or five rounds out of the car at the victim.
Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Innes were arrested earlier this month and the rifle allegedly used in the killing was found at Mr. Innes’ home, the prosecutor said.
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