A man was free on bail in a pending Ceres gun assault case when police say he committed two fatal shootings in Modesto.
Robert Earl Davis Jr., 21, of Riverbank on Monday afternoon remained in custody at the Santa Cruz County Jail. He was was arrested late Friday on suspicion of murder in the Oct. 28 shooting of 5-year-old Xavier Smith and the Nov. 21 shooting of 21-year-old Cody Lea.
The Santa Cruz Police Department found Davis at a motel and apprehended him. It was unclear on Monday when Davis will be returned to Stanislaus County to face charges in the two homicides, said Heather Graves, a Modesto police spokeswoman.
In an unrelated case, Davis faces charges of assault with a gun and negligent discharge of a gun stemming from a July 22 confrontation in Ceres.
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Ceres police at the time said Davis pistol-whipped a driver, inadvertently firing a shot from the gun in a suspected road rage incident. The fired bullet struck Davis’ friend, Malcolm Gray, in the chest, according to police.
Davis was arrested on the same day as the Ceres confrontation. He was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail and released on $50,000 bail soon after.
Prosecutors on Aug. 9 formally filed charges against Davis in connection with the violent Ceres confrontation. Court records indicated Davis’ arraignment hearing was scheduled and postponed twice before he pleaded not guilty the charges on Oct. 23, five days before the boy was killed by stray gunfire.
Xavier and a 6-year-old boy were shot as they stood outside a home in the 1400 block of Lake Park Court, south of Briggsmore Avenue and just east of Lakewood Avenue in east Modesto.
The other boy survived. The home, where the two boys were playing that night, was not the intended target in the shooting.
Modesto police investigators believe Davis was in a vehicle driven by Ryan DeSousa, 20, of Modesto, when Davis fired a gun at several homes down that street, and the bullets hit the two boys.
Davis’ criminal case in the alleged Ceres assault was scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Nov. 28, a week after Lea was gunned down at Ustach Park, near Hillglen Avenue in Modesto’s Village 1.
Investigators believe David Wilmore Jr., 21, of Modesto acted as Davis’ accomplice in the shooting that killed Lea. But Modesto police have declined to say what Wilmore’s alleged role in Lea’s shooting.
Initial reports to police indicated the shooting occurred on the basketball courts on the north end of the park; police later said officers found Lea injured in the street.
Meanwhile, Davis was scheduled to appear in court for the criminal case in the violent confrontation in Ceres. A pretrial hearing was scheduled Jan. 25, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled April 10.
Modesto police investigators believe Davis was the shooter in both killings, and they believe both shootings were motivated by drugs.
Like Davis, DeSousa and Wilmore were arrested over the weekend on suspicion of murder. DeSousa faces an additional charge of attempted murder, presumably stemming from the 6-year-old boy struck by gunfire on Lake Park Court.
Stanislaus Superior Court was closed Monday for a holiday, so it’s likely prosecutors will formally charge DeSousa and Wilmore Tuesday or later this week. They remained in custody Monday afternoon at the Stanislaus County Jail.