A 44-year-old ex-con -- already charged with multiple attempted break-ins in Irvine -- was charged Monday with two counts of murder stemming from the killings of a man and woman in a Newport Beach apartment.
Jamon Rayon Buggs of Huntington Beach appeared before a judge at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach on the amended complaint but did not enter a plea. His arraignment was rescheduled to May 17.
In addition to the murder charges, which include a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, prosecutors also filed one count each of possession of a firearm by a felon and attempted first-degree burglary, and also added a sentencing enhancement allegation for the personal discharge of a gun causing death.
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The minimum punishment if he is convicted at trial would be life in prison without the possibility of parole. The special circumstance allegation makes him eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors have yet to decide whether to pursue capital punishment.
According to the criminal complaint, Buggs was convicted of assault on a police officer in San Diego County in 1995.
Court records show that he pleaded guilty to felony vandalism and possession of a firearm by a felon, both felonies, as well as taking property from another and brandishing a firearm, both misdemeanors, in September 1996 and was sentenced to 32 months in state prison.
The murder charges stem from the deaths of 48-year-old Wendi Sue Miller of Costa Mesa and 38-year-old Darren Donald Partch of Newport Beach, whose bodies were found about 9:30 p.m. April 21 by Partch's roommate in their unit in the Villa Siena apartment complex in the 2100 block of East 15th Street near Irvine Avenue.
In connection with the attempted break-ins in Irvine, Buggs is charged with attempted burglary of an inhabited dwelling, discharge of a gun at an inhabited dwelling, possession of a firearm by a felon and leading police on a chase, all felonies, as well as a misdemeanor count of hit-and-run with property damage and a sentencing enhancement allegation of being armed with a gun in the commission of a felony.
The initial attempted break-in occurred about 11:35 p.m. on April 20, but the burglar ran off when a resident who heard the intrusion on a second-story balcony at 818 Silk Tree made eye contact with the suspect, according to Irvine Police Department Lt. Dave Klug. While fleeing, Buggs allegedly fired a bullet into the residence.
Another attempted break-in happened about 5 a.m. the following day, again in the vicinity of Harvard Avenue and Barranca Parkway. Surveillance video shows the man leaving when he failed to open the front door, Klug said.
About 12:15 a.m. on April 22, Irvine police patrolling in the area of the break-ins saw a suspicious vehicle and attempted to pull over the driver, who refused and led officers on a short chase, Klug said. He said Buggs bailed from the car and ran off following a minor collision with a parked car. The suspect then allegedly broke into an unoccupied residence and was taken into custody about 4 a.m. when he tried to run from the home, the lieutenant said.
Court records show that Buggs and his ex-girlfriend, Samantha Brewers, got into a legal tussle in which the two traded allegations of domestic violence and sought restraining orders against each other.
In January, Brewers alleged in a restraining order request that Buggs broke into her Huntington Beach residence. She said that on another date, she heard someone jiggling the door to her bedroom and when she asked who it was, he refused to answer.
"I called 911,'' she says in her court papers. "Jamon's car was down the street. My roommates are terrified and now he stated that he will have someone hurt me if I file a restraining order.''
Buggs countered that he wasn't the one continuously pestering Brewers and alleged she had been peppering him with social media and text messages and even emails despite his attempts to block her. He sought a restraining order to prevent her from contacting him and said he didn't trust her around his 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.
Buggs also accused his ex-girlfriend of pestering him to pay back money he owed her and repeatedly calling Buggs, who is black, a racial epithet.