Man accused in Escondido shooting death pleads not guilty

Michael Hemphill allegedly shot Brandon Sanchez

SAN DIEGO - An Escondido resident accused of gunning down another man during a confrontation outside the suspect's trailer residence pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge and was ordered held on $1 million bail.

Michael James Hemphill, 55, allegedly shot 35-year-old Brandon Sanchez in the chest with a pistol in the 600 block of McDonald Lane in Escondido shortly before 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Sanchez died at the scene. Detectives questioned Hemphill, who said the shooting was an accident, before arresting him on suspicion of murder, according to Lt. Neal Griffin of the Escondido Police Department.

The suspect confronted the victim as the latter was doing landscaping work at the property, where Hemphill rents backyard space for his older-model trailer, according to Griffin. Sanchez was acquainted with the owner and had done maintenance work and other odd jobs for her there at times, the lieutenant said.

Investigators believe Hemphill harbored resentment toward the victim, who lived with his parents in Escondido, for contacting him on prior occasions about unpaid rent and other concerns on behalf of the property owner, police reported.

Hemphill faces 35 years to life in prison if convicted of murder and an allegation that he personally used a firearm in the killing, said Deputy District Attorney Laurie Hauf.

The defendant will be back in court May 6 for a readiness conference and May 8 for a preliminary hearing.

Print this article Back to Top