BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man he knows as “AWOL” said he needed money to get back to “the hood,” a man testified Wednesday.

He said they saw a man charging his electric vehicle in the parking lot of the Target on Stockdale Highway. “AWOL” told him the man probably had money.

The man identified “AWOL” as the defendant — Robert Pernell Roberts — seated in Department 6 for a preliminary hearing in the shooting death of corrections counselor Benny Alcala Jr. — the man who was charging the vehicle.

Roberts approached Alcala, who backed away as Roberts followed him out of his line of sight, the man testified.

“I heard a gunshot,” the man said. Roberts walked back and told him Alcala shouldn’t have walked away, he said.

Alcala, 43, died at the scene.

Robert Roberts/Photo courtesy: Bakersfield Police Department

Roberts, 29, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted robbery and possession of a gun by a felon in the Aug. 24 shooting.

His preliminary hearing continues Thursday, according to the court website. After prosecutor John Allen finishes presenting evidence, Judge John R. Brownlee will decide whether Roberts will stand trial as charged.

In addition to the witness’s statement, police say in reports they retrieved call data records showing Roberts’ phone in the area before the shooting, and he was caught on surveillance cameras at nearby businesses.

Allen played a video showing Roberts and his acquaintance walking into the Target before the shooting.

Additionally, police say a text sent from a number linked to Roberts said, “I just killed somebody. Watch the news.”