Judge refuses to reduce bail for Modesto defendant in New Year’s Day shooting

01/03/2014 5:19 PM

01/04/2014 8:59 PM

A man accused of shooting at three people after a fight during a New Year’s Eve party in Modesto> appeared in court Friday afternoon for the first time since his arrest earlier this week. The judge refused to reduce the defendant’s bail.

Johnny Martinez, 25, of Modesto has been charged with three counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting outside a home in the 1900 block of Reseda Lane, just west of Coffee Road, in north Modesto.

Authorities claim that Martinez fired shots at three people, including a mother and her adult son, but there were no reported injuries from the shooting. Modesto police said the woman’s son was assaulted at the party on Reseda Lane, left, and returned with his mother just before the shooting occurred.

Martinez pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied enhancements accusing him of using a gun. If convicted, the enhancements could lengthen a prison sentence.

The defendant had been held at the Stanislaus County jail since Wednesday morning, with his bail amount set at $500,000. Defense Attorney Alonzo Gradford asked the judge to reduce Martinez’s bail amount.

Gradford told the judge that Martinez doesn’t have an extensive criminal history, aside from a misdemeanor conviction. He said Martinez has strong connections to the area, including family in the county, so it’s not likely that the defendant would skip bail to avoid prosecution.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge John Whiteside said he could not consider reducing Martinez’s bail because there was not a prosecutor present to argue against the reduction. The prosecution has to be notified two days in advance of a bail review hearing, the judge said.

Whiteside told the defense attorney that his intention was to increase Martinez’s bail to an appropriate amount for the charges he faces. The judge said the bail should be set at $1.6 million, with $500,000 for each attempted murder charge and $100,000 for the enhancements.

Martinez’s bail initially was set by jail officials before the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office formally charged the defendant.

Gradford then asked the judge to at least leave the bail amount at $500,000. He said he was concerned another judge assigned to the case would be forced to abide by Judge Whiteside’s increased bail amount.

Whiteside took into account Gradford’s concerns and set Martinez’s bail at $600,000, telling the defense attorney that he was being lenient. The judge scheduled Martinez to return to court Tuesday, when the prosecution and defense will have an opportunity to argue over the bail amount.

As of Friday evening, Martinez remained in custody at the jail.

Martinez’s co-defendant, Derrick McConnell, 23, of Modesto, has been charged with battery resulting in a serious bodily injury in connection with the alleged assault at the holiday party that police say led to the shooting. McConnell has bailed out of jail, and his first court appearance has not been scheduled.

Police said McConnell assaulted the woman’s son during the party. The son left the party and returned to the Reseda Lane home in a vehicle with his mother. Police say shots were fired at the pair as they were driving by the home about 5:34 a.m., but they were not hit by gunfire.

Officers responded to the reported shooting and confirmed the vehicle had been struck by gunfire.

Officers found Martinez and Nicholas Rubalcava outside the home. Police said Martinez, who matched witnesses’ description of the shooter, went into the home and would not come out, so the department’s Special Weapons and Tactics team surrounded the home.

After making repeated announcements to coax the occupants to come out, police said, Martinez and McConnell surrendered about 9 a.m. Wednesday. Martinez and McConnell have been charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest in connection with refusing to come out of the home.

Investigators served a search warrant at the home and found several firearms inside, including a gun that had been reported stolen, according to Modesto police.

Rubalcava, 24, of Modesto was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication. He has bailed out of jail, and prosecutors have not formally charged him with any crimes.

Editor's Choice Videos

Join the Discussion

The Modesto Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service