Local

October 5, 2012

2 to stand trial in Modesto clerk's shooting death

Two Merced men who pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing Friday have been ordered to stand trial, accused of murder in the shooting of a Modesto store clerk during an attempted robbery nearly three years ago.

Two Merced men who pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing Friday have been ordered to stand trial, accused of murder in the shooting of a Modesto store clerk during an attempted robbery nearly three years ago.

At the conclusion of their arraignment, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves scheduled Mark Burgess, 25, and Ernesto Morales Jr., 23, to return to court Wednesday to schedule their trials because they will stand trial separately. The men remain in custody.

Their cases were joined for their Sept. 21 preliminary hearing, which ended with the judge ruling that there was enough evidence for them to stand trial on charges of murder and attempted robbery.

They are accused of gunning down Harinder Sanghera, 28, of Ceres on Dec. 4, 2009, at the Gas N Shop Market in the 800 block of South Ninth Street in Modesto.

The shooting occurred shortly before 3:15 p.m. on a Friday. Witnesses told investigators that two men were seen running south on South Ninth after the gunfire was heard.

Stanislaus County sheriff's officials later released a sketch of two suspects who they believe were trying to rob the convenience store. Burgess and Morales were arrested in fall 2011.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394.

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