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Personal trainer charged with special-circumstances murder in Newport Beach slayings

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Jamon Rayon Buggs was charged in the deaths of Wendi Miller of Costa Mesa and Darren Partch of Newport Beach.
(File Photo)
Daily Pilot

A Huntington Beach personal trainer was charged with multiple felony counts Monday including two counts of special-circumstances murder in connection with the deaths of two people in Newport Beach.

Jamon Rayon Buggs, 44, of Huntington Beach was also charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, one count of attempted first-degree burglary and a sentencing enhancement allegation of personal discharge of a firearm causing death, prosecutors said. Buggs has a conviction for an assault on a police officer in San Diego County in 1995, the district attorney’s office said.

Buggs appeared in court Monday in Newport Beach but did not enter a plea.

Buggs was arrested Thursday in connection with the deaths of Darren Partch, 38, and Wendi Miller, 48. Partch and Miller were last seen leaving a Laguna Beach bar at about 1:45 a.m on April 20.

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The two were found dead on April 21 inside Partch’s residence in the 2100 block of East 15th Street when Partch’s roommate arrived home after a few days away, Newport Beach police said.

Neighbors and friends memorialize Costa Mesa woman found dead in Newport Beach condo »

At the time of his arrest, Buggs was already being held in Orange County Jail, having been arrested April 22 by Irvine police on suspicion of a pair of attempted burglaries there over the weekend.

The first burglary attempt occurred about 11:35 p.m. April 20 and was interrupted by a resident, according to the Irvine Police Department. The would-be burglar fired a single round from a gun, and a bullet was found lodged outside the home, police said.

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The second incident occurred about 5 a.m. April 21 but was reported that afternoon. The homeowner reviewed surveillance video and saw that someone had tried to open the front door, but no entry was made, and the would-be burglar ran away, police said.

Irvine police investigating the attempted burglaries spotted a suspicious vehicle about 12:15 a.m. April 22, authorities said. Officers tried to stop the vehicle, and a short pursuit followed. The driver crashed the vehicle and ran into a nearby backyard, according to police. He then broke into an unoccupied home and was there for hours before he ran out at about 4 a.m., police said.

The suspect taken into custody was later identified as Buggs.

He pleaded not guilty the next day to one felony count of first-degree attempted burglary with an enhancement allegation of being armed with a firearm in the commission of a felony, one felony count of discharging a firearm at an inhabited dwelling, one felony count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one felony count of reckless driving while evading a police officer and a misdemeanor count of hit-and-run with property damage, according to court records.

Buggs was scheduled to be arraigned Monday in the murder case and also had hearings scheduled in the Irvine matter. Orange County Superior Court Judge Karen Robinson continued the arraignment until May 17 due to substantial changes to Buggs’ case. Prosecutors asked that he be held without bail, and the judge agreed to the change from the previous $1-million amount.

Buggs is being held at Orange County Jail.

Julia Sclafani writes for Times Community News.

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