A judge Monday scheduled a new trial to start May 6 for a man accused of murder in the 2009 shooting of two men in north Modesto. Three men were convicted last week for their involvement in the double homicide.
Modestans Eric Arguello, 21, and Victor Zapien, 24, and Ceres residents David Ferrel, 33, and Kelly Valle, 28, initially were on trial together. They were charged with murder in the deaths of Christopher Diaz, 20, of Modesto and Mark Ochoa, 19, of Ceres.
On Sept. 10, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Nancy Ashley declared a mistrial for Ferrel after his attorney suffered a stroke and could not continue with the trial.
Arguello, Zapien and Valle continued with their trial. A jury Friday found them guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. The defendants also were convicted of two counts of attempted murder, one of those charges stemming from shots fired at a police officer.
Ferrel faces the same charges as his co-defendants, and his trial will have to start from the beginning with another jury. Monday, Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira told the judge that Ferrel's trial is expected to last about six weeks.
Ashley scheduled Ferrel to return to court April 23 for a pretrial hearing. The judge has not scheduled a sentencing hearing for Arguello, Zapien and Valle.
It's unclear what type of sentence Arguello, Zapien and Valle face, except to say the men face more than 60 years in prison each.
The jury determined that the three defendants did not commit the murders in association with a criminal street gang; however, the jurors decided the defendants were guilty of participating in a criminal street gang. The court will have to resolve the result of the seemingly contradictory verdict before it can proceed with sentencing, which might take several months.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.