Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Men Accused of Killing Sex Offender to Stand Trial

mydesert.com: Men accused of killing convicted sex offender to stand trial.

A self-avowed white supremacist and a reputed drug dealer accused of using California's Megan's Law registry to hunt down and kill a convicted sex offender must stand trial on felony charges, a judge ruled Monday.

Steven Banister, 28, and Travis Martin Cody, 27, face first-degree murder charges in the Aug. 10 death of Edward Vaughn Keeley, whose body was found in his backyard in the 64000 block of 16th Avenue in North Palm Springs.

The suspects also face two special circumstance allegations of committing a murder during a robbery and a burglary, which makes them eligible for the death penalty if convicted. Prosecutors have not decided whether to seek capital punishment for the men.

Following a preliminary hearing that started Friday and continued through part of Monday morning, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon ruled there was enough evidence to proceed to trial.

Keeley's address was listed as the home of a convicted sex offender on a publicly available database created by Megan's Law.

Banister had allegedly bragged in prison that he planned to assault homosexuals, rapists and pedophiles. He used Megan's Law to target pedophiles and sex offenders for his burglaries, Button alleged in the declaration.