A Riverbank man accused of firing a gun that killed a 5-year-old boy playing outside a Modesto home made his first Stanislaus County Superior Court appearance Thursday afternoon.
Robert Earl Davis Jr., 21, sat in the courtroom for the hearing that lasted about 10 minutes. He was wearing a red-and-white jail inmate jumpsuit with shackles on his wrists and his ankles.
Deputy Public Defender Maureen Keller, Davis' court-appointed attorney, entered a not guilty plea on behalf of her client, who has been charged with murder and attempted murder in the Oct. 28 shooting of 5-year-old Xavier Smith.
Modesto police investigators believe Davis Jr. was in a vehicle driven by Ryan DeSousa, 20, of Modesto, when Davis fired a gun that killed Xavier and injured a 6-year-old boy as they played outside a home in the 1400 block of Lake Park Court.
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DeSousa also has been charged with murder and attempted murder in the shooting of the two boys. DeSousa on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to his charges and was returned to court Thursday for Davis' arraignment hearing.
Davis' charges include enhancements for allegedly using a gun and committing the shooting while out on bail in an unrelated case involving assault with a gun. He and DeSousa both face an enhancement for allegedly acting with premeditation.
The defense attorney denied the enhancements filed against Davis. Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova set Davis' bail at $3.75 million. Davis and DeSousa, who remained in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail, were scheduled to return to court Feb. 22 for a pretrial hearing.
Investigators believe Davis also was involved in a Nov. 21 shooting that killed 21-year-old Cody Lea Ustach Park, near Hillglen Avenue in Modesto’s Village 1. Police officials, however, are choosing to hold off on charging Davis in Lea's death, after receiving new information detectives were working to corroborate.
Authorities have said the two shootings were motivated by drugs, and the boys were playing outside a home that was not the target.
David Wilmore Jr., 21, of Modesto has been charged with murder and robbery in Lea's death, along with enhancements for allegedly firing a gun and acting with premeditation. Wilmore, who remains held at the jail without bail, will return to court Feb. 27 for his postponed arraignment hearing.