Murder Charges Filed Against 2 Men in Slaying

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Murder charges have been filed against two Antelope Valley residents accused of shooting a man to death who tried to intervene in a fight, authorities said.

Freddy Ruiz, 20, of Lancaster and Jim Joe McGrath, 21, of Palmdale were being held without bail in Los Angeles County Jail on charges stemming from the death of Merle Grinder, 22, of Lancaster, Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert B. Foltz said.

Grinder had gone to the party on June 2 with friends, including Joseph Gray, 24. As the party ended, McGrath and Ruiz, who also attended the party, attempted to rob Gray and threatened to kill him, Foltz said.

"Gray went to his knees and pleaded for his life, at which time he was assaulted by a number of individuals," Foltz said. "He was being kicked" as he lay on the ground. Grinder started walking toward McGrath and Gray when he was shot four times, Foltz said.

Grinder's body was found in the street about 1:30 a.m. with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gray was severely beaten and Michael McGowan, 25, another friend of Grinder, was stabbed and beaten by the crowd. Both men survived the attack.

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