A 21-year-old accused of killing a 16-year-old Moreno Valley girl and hiding her body with his older brother’s help must stand trial for first-degree murder and other charges, a judge ruled Friday.
Owen Skyler Shover and Gary Anthony Shover, 25 — both of Hesperia — were arrested in 2019 on suspicion of killing Aranda Briones.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz ruled there was sufficient evidence to sustain the murder charge and a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait against Owen Shover.
However, the hearing resulted in the murder charge being dismissed against Gary Shover and substituted with a felony allegation of being an accessory after the fact.
Schwartz scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for the brothers on Oct. 5 at the Riverside courthouse.
He ordered that both defendants remain held without bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
According to sheriff’s officials, the brothers were identified as suspects in Briones’ disappearance and death following a weeks-long investigation that ended in February 2019, when the siblings were taken into custody without incident at their residence on Grevillea Street, near Old Ranch Road.
Briones was last seen on Jan. 13, 2019, in Moreno Valley Community Park, at the intersection of Cottonwood Avenue and Frederick Street, where she had been visiting with friends and relatives.
Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Durham said at the time that Owen Shover, a friend of Briones from Moreno Valley High School, was the last person to have seen her alive.
Durham said investigators spoke to Shover, who allegedly claimed he had dropped Briones at the park, where she was picked up by somebody in a four-door sedan. But Durham said that video images from surveillance cameras in the area conflicted with Shover’s story.
“The camera system was reviewed, and ultimately it destroyed the timeline he provided,” Durham said.
A neighbor of the Shovers told reporters in February 2019 that she observed investigators digging in the backyard of the brothers’ home, where they unearthed clothing and blankets.
“Evidence was collected that confirmed … Miss Briones was the victim of a homicide and points at these two brothers,” Durham said.
A possible motive for the alleged slaying was not disclosed.
In the weeks following her disappearance, the victim’s loved ones distributed flyers throughout the city and surrounding locations bearing her photograph and other information. However, detectives have still not determined where her remains might be located.
The defendants have no documented prior felony convictions.