MODESTO — A judge on Wednesday scheduled a hearing Aug. 1 for defense attorneys to challenge an indictment against seven men charged with murder in the shooting deaths of three people last year in an east Modesto home.
Those indicted are Ricky Javier Madrigal, Robert Palomino, Juan Jose Nila, Armando Osegueda, Jose Osegueda Jr., Richard Tyrone Garcia and Joseph Luis Jauriqui. They have been charged with three counts of premeditated murder, first-degree burglary and participating in a criminal street gang.
The defendants are accused of participating in the March 3, 2012, killings of 16-year-old David Siebels, 19-year-old Alyxandria Tellez and 31-year-old Edward Joseph Reinig. The victims were shot in the McClure Road home across from Creekside Golf Course.
The slayings, authorities have said, are connected to the torture of a 19-year-old woman about a month before the murders. That woman later was the only survivor of the shooting at the McClure Road home.
A criminal grand jury indicted the defendants in December. Grand jury proceedings are held behind closed doors, and witnesses testify without the defendants or their defense attorneys present. An indictment allows prosecutors to skip the preliminary hearing phase and move straight to a trial.
The hearing scheduled in August, also known as a demurrer hearing, is the only opportunity defense attorneys have to challenge the indictment itself before their clients are arraigned and a trial is scheduled.
The defendants in this case have not entered pleas, and their arraignment has been postponed numerous times since mid-December. Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Scott Steffen cannot proceed with the arraignment until after he's heard arguments in the demurrer hearing and made a ruling.
Mary Lynn Belsher, Madrigal's defense attorney, expressed her frustration with the process in court Wednesday morning. She told the judge she was ready to file a 60-page motion to dismiss charges against her client, but she has to wait until after the arraignment, which won't happen until after the demurrer hearing.
"So, this could possibly go on until next year," Belsher said in court.
The defense attorney told the judge she wanted her client to be arraigned Wednesday, but quickly changed her mind. Belsher told the judge she will go along with the other defense attorneys and wait to be heard on the demurrer motion first.
The Stanislaus County district attorney's office is seeking the death penalty for three of the seven defendants: Garcia, Armando Osegueda and Jauriqui. If a jury finds the three defendants guilty as charged, the jury will be asked to decide whether the death penalty is the appropriate punishment.
If convicted, the four other defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394.