SILVER LAKE -- A man accused of engaging in a gunfight with police outside the Hyperion Avenue Trader Joe's, leading to the fatal shooting of a store employee by an officer, was ordered today to stand trial on murder and other charges.
Gene Evin Atkins was scheduled to return to court in downtown Los Angeles Sept. 18.
Following a four-day hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar denied the defense's motion to dismiss murder and other counts against Atkins, ruling that there was sufficient evidence to allow the case against the 29-year-old defendant to proceed to trial.
Atkins is accused of setting off a chain of events on July 21, 2018, that led to the death of assistant store manager Melyda "Mely Corado, who was fatally shot by a police officer in front of the store during a gunbattle. He faces more than 50 criminal charges, including allegedly shooting his 76-year-old grandmother and his 17-year-old girlfriend on the same day as the Trader Joe's shootout.
The L.A. Police Department has confirmed that the bullet that killed Corado was fired by a police officer, not Atkins, who surrendered to SWAT officers after about three hours of negotiations. Though he did not shoot Corado, Atkins is charged with her killing under the theory that he set off the chain of events that led to the 27-year-old woman's death.
Several customers, employees and officers took to the stand in the past week during the preliminary hearing, offing harrowing first-hand accounts of what happened inside the store during the Saturday afternoon shooting and standoff.
At a court hearing last December, Atkins told the judge that he has no criminal record, but has an ``extensive mental health record'' that includes a diagnosis of ``bipolar disorder and a list of other disorders, as well.'' He unsuccessfully tried to plead insanity at that hearing.
He told a judge in February that he was a prophet "sent here by Jesus'" and didn't understand anything, and an attorney was subsequently appointed to represent Atkins, who had been acting as his own lawyer.
Atkins, who is being held on $15.1 million bail, lost his bid to replace his attorney just before his latest hearing got underway.
Relatives of Corado filed a lawsuit Nov. 29 against the city of Los Angeles and two LAPD officers, saying they were still seeking answers about the shooting that the city and police department have refused to provide.