Morse co-defendant pleads not guilty to murder charge

08/01/2014 10:39 AM

08/01/2014 10:54 PM

A man accused of killing a teenager in 2013 after allegedly opening fire from a car that investigators believe was driven by the son of the Merced County district attorney pleaded not guilty Friday to all charges.

Jacob Tellez of Merced, also known as Jacob Logan, entered his plea before Judge Ronald W. Hansen in Merced Superior Court. Tellez, 18, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, shooting from a vehicle, possession of a firearm by a minor and street terrorism, as well as allegations of criminal street gang participation.

His attorney, Jeffrey Tenenbaum, said he needed more time to review the evidence and case documents.

“I’ll be reviewing several hundred pages over the next week,” Tenenbaum said outside the courtroom Friday, “and we’ll be back (in court) in three weeks to set a preliminary hearing.”

Tellez has been charged with killing Bernabed Hernandez-Canela, 18, during an alleged drive-by shooting on March 30, 2013, at a large house party in the 9200 block of Westside Boulevard near Atwater. He was arrested July 22.

Ethan B. Morse, 18, son of District Attorney Larry D. Morse II, has been charged as the alleged driver in connection with the death of Hernandez-Canela. He was arrested July 25 but has not entered a plea.

Two other victims, Samantha Parreira, 16, and Mathew Fisher, 19, were also shot and killed during the same house party. However, their deaths are believed to be the result of an incident that was separate from the slaying of Hernandez-Canela, according to court documents.

Jose L. Botello and Jose M. Carballido, both 19-year-old Atwater residents, have been charged as co-defendants in connection with the deaths of Parreira and Fisher. They were arrested July 15.

Both men have been charged with two counts of murder and accused of being gang members, according to the complaints.

Botello pleaded not guilty to all charges earlier this week. Carballido has yet to enter a plea and was still seeking to hire a private attorney. However, according to reports filed in court, Carballido denied participating in any shootings.

All the suspects remain in custody.

Investigators believe Tellez accidentally dialed 911 from his cellphone on the night of the murders. Merced police dispatchers apparently heard a man, later identified by Merced County sheriff’s detectives as Tellez, talking about the party and at least one of the murders, according to a report contained in court records.

In that report from investigators, Tellez denied involvement in any of the shootings when questioned by detectives.

Tenenbaum said it was too early to comment on details of the allegations against his client.

Morse’s attorney, Kirk McAllister, has adamantly maintained that Morse is innocent and criticized the detectives with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department investigating the case.

The California Office of the Attorney General is prosecuting both cases because of the alleged involvement of the district attorney’s son. Larry D. Morse II has recused himself and his office from the case entirely.

Sheriff Tom Cavallero has said he stands by the detective’s work and noted the Attorney General’s Office also appears confident in the case.

Tellez and Carballido are due back in court Aug. 22. Morse and Botello appear again Thursday.

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