Suspect in fatal Mira Mesa shooting pleads not guilty

Posted at 4:26 PM, Dec 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-23 19:26:45-05

SAN DIEGO - A man accused in a gang-related shooting in Mira Mesa that left another man dead pleaded not guilty Friday to murder, attempted murder and other charges and was ordered held on $1 million bail.

Chien Ngoc Pham, 22, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested Tuesday in connection with the death the previous night of 18-year-old James Carmona Martinez, according to San Diego police.

Deputy District Attorney Christina Arrollado alleged that Pham drove two suspected gang members to a neighborhood in northern Mira Mesa to allegedly "shoot up" a rival's home.

A shootout ensued, and a wounded Martinez was dropped off at Sharp Memorial Hospital, where he died a few hours later.

Early the next morning, a SWAT team surrounded the residence where the shooting had occurred and directed the occupants to come outside. Officers then determined that the person they were seeking -- the resident who had been involved in the exchange of gunfire -- was not there.

Detectives located that man the next day, questioned him and released him. It was unclear if he might face criminal charges in the case, said SDPD Lt. Ray Valentin.

The suspects and the man they confronted were all believed to have gang ties, the lieutenant said.

In addition to murder and attempted murder, Pham is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied dwelling and assault. He faces life in prison if convicted.

A status conference was set for Dec. 29 and a preliminary hearing for Jan. 9.