MODESTO — A judge on Thursday set a bail amount at $2.9 million for a Hollister man accused of murder in connection with the shooting of his co-worker, an off-duty Department of Defense police officer.
Police say Robert Anthony Moreno pulled out a gun during a fight with a group of people outside a north Modesto bar in late July, opened fire and inadvertently shot to death his fellow federal officer, Daryl Chargualaf.
Before the judge made up his mind, Kirk McAllister, Moreno's defense attorney, argued that his client fired the gun in self-defense after he was attacked by another group. He said Moreno accidentally shot his friend in the process. "No way that was an intentional homicide," McAllister argued.
Deputy District Attorney Jeff Laugero disagreed with the defense attorney's characterization of the shooting. The prosecutor told the judge that Moreno intentionally pulled out a gun and fired the weapon, "not one time, several times."
Laugero also argued there was no indication anyone else fired a gun during the violent confrontation. He said Moreno fired five shots from his gun.
McAllister was seeking a bail amount less than $300,000. He argued that his client was a decorated member of the military who served in Iraq.
The defense attorney said Moreno has no prior criminal record and is not a flight risk. He said Moreno has not tried to evade authorities in the past few months since the shooting, even though he knew he was being investigated.
Laugero said Moreno is a risk to public safety if he were to be released from custody, go to a bar and find himself in a similar situation.
Chargualaf, 34, of Modesto died from injuries suffered in the shooting, which occurred about 1:40 a.m. July 22 outside O'Malley's Bar in a shopping center at Standiford Avenue and Prescott Road.
Modesto police have said Moreno remained at the crime scene when police arrived and identified himself to investigators as the person who fired the shots. Moreno said he was as an off-duty U.S. Department of Defense police officer. He worked with Chargualaf at a facility in Tracy.
Moreno, 30, has been charged with murder, along with two counts each of attempted murder and assault with a semiautomatic gun. He was being held without bail at the Stanislaus County Jail.
After hearing the arguments, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova set Moreno's bail at $2.9 million and scheduled the defendant to return to court Oct. 24 for his arraignment hearing. Moreno remained in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394.