Nine defendants accused of murder in a north Modesto gang-related attack last week appeared briefly in court Thursday only to have their arraignment hearing postponed until next week.
The judge must appoint attorneys to represent two of the defendants, so they did not enter pleas. Authorities say the defendants are responsible for the death of 20-year-old Erick Gomez.
Giovani Barocio, 21, the 10th suspect wanted on suspicion of murder in Gomez's death, was not listed in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail as of Thursday night. Investigators allege that Barocio was the gunman in the attack.
Dalia Mendoza, 17, was in court for the first time with her co-defendants. She was stabbed during the assault on Gomez, but police have not said how or by whom. She was hospitalized but has since been released into the custody of Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall. Although she is a minor, she is being prosecuted as an adult.
Nancy Rodriguez, 18; Jeanette Robles, 20; Elida Carranza, 21; Lisandro Mendoza, 20; Jesse James Sebourn, 22; Jenna Cheyenne Sebourn, 20; Michael Terrill Sebourn, 53; and Danny Leon Copeland, 56, are the other defendants in custody.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff scheduled the defendants to return to court Monday for a continued arraignment hearing.
Slaying described as revenge
A criminal complaint filed Tuesday alleges the defendants were involved in the beating, stabbing and shooting of Gomez on Feb. 14 in the 2400 block of Vera Cruz Drive, just east of Coffee Road and south of Floyd Avenue. Investigators have said the violence was perpetrated by Sureño gang members in search of rival Norteños.
The Sureños wanted revenge for violence on a fellow gang member, the complaint alleges, so they crossed out rival gang graffiti to incite more violence.
The complaint further alleges the Sureño gang members met at a nearby park to "plan and prepare for retaliation against Norteño gang members," arming themselves with knives and at least one gun. They then drove around Modesto in several vehicles, asking potential victims about their gang affiliation and flashing Sureño gang signs at perceived Norteño gang members.
While stabbing Gomez, the suspects yelled Sureño gang challenges, according to the criminal complaint. Gomez was then shot multiple times.
Investigators ask anyone with information about the case or Barocio's whereabouts to call Detective Robert Gumm at (209) 342-9162 or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a reward. Tipsters can text information to Crime Stoppers by sending a text message to 274637; type "TIP704" plus a message.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394.