RIVERSIDE — A white supremacist gang member who fatally shot his 35-year-old friend in East Hemet because the victim failed to pay drug-related debts was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder.
Noy Estel Boukes(File photo)
A Riverside jury deliberated one day before finding 31-year-old Noy Estel Boukes guilty of the murder count, as well a special circumstance allegation of killing for the benefit of a criminal street gang, with sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations, for the 2016 slaying of Jason Popovich of Beaumont.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Donner scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 31 at the Riverside Hall of Justice. He’s being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Boukes is a ranking member of the Coors Skins, a documented supremacist gang that operates in the Hemet Valley.
Boukes and Popovich had been friends for years, but by July 2016, the defendant and his associates had become disillusioned with the victim because he had not satisfied drug debts owed the gang, Deputy District Attorney Marcus Garrett wrote in a trial brief.
Garrett said Boukes was given orders to eliminate Popovich, and the defendant complied, possibly because he wanted to elevate himself in the eyes of the Aryan Brotherhood.
On the night of July 19, 2016, the 6-foot, 5-inch ex-convict was with his girlfriend, identified in court documents only as “A.T.,” when he encountered Popovich and his girlfriend, identified only as “H.R.,” and offered to give the pair a lift, according to the prosecution.
Boukes stopped at a convenience store, then drove to the south end of Araucana Street, near Bantam Way, where he told his passengers that he needed to stop by a house and retrieve something, Garrett said.
The prosecutor said Boukes asked Popovich to join him, and within seconds of the victim exiting the Toyota Corolla, the defendant opened fire with a .357 revolver, shooting Popovich in the spinal column and the side of the head, killing him instantly with the second shot.
H.R. screamed frantically and tried to run to her slain boyfriend’s aid, but Boukes shoved her back into the Toyota and sped away, according to the brief.
He drove to a former gang member’s residence to hide the handgun and pondered whether to kill both H.R. and A.T. because they had witnessed the shooting, and he wanted to silence them, court papers state. However, Boukes’ one-time associate talked him out of killing the women, who stayed behind as the defendant left the property, according to Garrett.
The man, whose name was not released, went to the sheriff’s Hemet Station the following day and surrendered the firearm, then gave a statement regarding what he knew, at which point the two women were located and questioned, culminating in an arrest warrant being issued for Boukes.
The white supremacist was arrested without a struggle when he appeared at the sheriff’s station, where detectives had summoned him for an interview.
According to court records, he has prior convictions for auto theft, burglary and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.