Three defendants on Monday pleaded not guilty to murder charges in a 2011 east Modesto shooting in which, according to police, a person dressed in black walked up and gunned down a 30-year-old man.
Ricky Javier Madrigal, Carlos Jesus Soriano and Jonathon Vasquez are accused of first-degree murder and shooting at an occupied home Dec. 23, 2011. Luis Castaneda was killed in the shooting.
A criminal complaint claims the defendants committed the crime for the benefit of the Norteño street gang.
Castaneda was shot about 10:20 p.m. at a home in the 1400 block of Fara Biundo Drive, just south of Briggsmore Avenue. Police officials have said the shooter walked up to a group gathered at the home and fired multiple gunshots.
Castaneda was the only one among the group who was critically injured. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died.
Prosecutors filed the criminal complaint in Castaneda’s death Aug. 9, but the arraignment was postponed several times.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Marie Silveira scheduled a preliminary hearing for the defendants to start April 7. The judge said the hearing is expected to last several days. At its conclusion, the judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
Madrigal, Soriano and Vasquez remain in custody.
A fourth defendant in the Castaneda slaying case, Mauricio Sanchez, has pleaded no contest to a charge of being an accessory. A charge of shooting at an occupied home has been dismissed. Sanchez’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5.
Madrigal also is a defendant in a March 2012 east Modesto triple homicide. He is one of seven men indicted on murder charges in the shooting deaths of 16-year-old David Siebels, 19-year-old Alyxandria Tellez and 31-year-old Edward Joseph Reinig. They were killed inside a home on McClure Road, across from Creekside Golf Course.
The triple homicide case continues in court Wednesday, when Judge Scott Steffen is expected to announce his ruling on defense challenges to the indictment.