MODESTO — Nine people were indicted by a grand jury on murder charges when the document was unsealed Monday morning in Stanislaus Superior Court, while charges against one defendant were dropped.
Five women and four men face charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with roles in the Feb. 14 stabbing and shooting death of 20-year-old Erick Gomez in Modesto.
Court documents indicate that the attack on Vera Cruz Drive near Coffee Road and Floyd Avenue was motivated by ongoing violence between rival Sureño and Norteño street gangs.
Nancy Rodriguez, Jeanette Robles, Elida Carranza, Jenna Cheyenne Sebourn, Dalia Mendoza, Lisandro Mendoza, Jesse James Sebourn, Michael Terrill Sebourn and Giovani Barocio also were indicted on enhancements of committing the murder for the benefit of the Sureño street gang and using a firearm, which can add time to a sentence.
Barocio, the suspected gunman, remains at large.
The indictment will supersede charges filed in a criminal complaint.
One defendant previously charged, Danny Leon Copeland, learned Monday that he was not indicted and that all charges against him will be dropped.
"Prosecutors have an ethical obligation to present grand jurors with evidence that is admissible in a jury trial," Deputy District Attorney Tom Brennan said in an email.
"The evidence against Copeland came primarily from his crime partners, who advised law enforcement of Copeland's involvement. When the nonaccomplice witnesses failed to identify Copeland to the grand jury, we determined including Copeland on the indictment was not proper."
The charges against him were dismissed without prejudice, meaning the district attorney's office has the right to file charges related to the crime again if additional evidence surfaces.
Judge Thomas Zeff agreed to a request by Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira, who appeared on Brennan's behalf Monday, to seal the grand jury transcripts at least until the defense attorneys have had the opportunity to review them.
The defense attorneys asked that an arraignment on the indictment be postponed so they could have time to read the transcripts.
The defendants will return to court for an arraignment March 27 at 8:30 a.m.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime.