A preliminary hearing was postponed Thursday in a Modesto murder case because one of the defendants already has been sent to San Quentin State Prison.
Angel Del Villar is accused of murder in the shooting of 30-year-old Enrique Garcia Jr. Authorities have said Garcia was gunned down May 18, 2010, after the two men got into an argument near Locust Street and North Martin Luther King Drive in west Modesto.
Authorities also have said Garcia tried to get away in his car but crashed less than two blocks from where the shooting took place. He died at the crash scene from multiple gunshot wounds.
Del Villar’s preliminary hearing was scheduled to start Thursday morning in Stanislaus Superior Court, but he couldn’t attend. He recently started serving a sentence of 80 years to life in prison for a shooting death in a botched home-invasion robbery.
Del Villar was one of four men found guilty of murder for their involvement in the home-invasion robbery. The prosecution said the robbery was carried out by a Norteño street gang regiment looking for drugs and cash, but it targeted the wrong victims.
The robbers thought they were hitting a notorious drug house March 24, 2010, but the dealers had moved out and the cash and drugs were not there. Testimony indicated the robbers confronted five victims, including Julio Jimenez, who was shot in the back three times as he pleaded for mercy.
Thursday, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Laugero told the judge he needed more time to submit paperwork to have Del Villar brought back to Stanislaus County to face charges in the Garcia shooting.
Judge Dawna Reeves postponed the two-day preliminary hearing until Dec. 15. The judge also scheduled a pretrial hearing Nov. 17 to make sure Del Villar has returned and is ready to proceed with the Garcia murder case.
Del Villar’s girlfriend at the time, Angelina Mendoza, is listed as his co-defendant in the Garcia murder case. She is accused of being an accessory because authorities say she helped him escape capture after the crime. She appeared in court Thursday for the brief hearing.
Laugero told the judge that the District Attorney’s Office is open to discussing a possible plea deal for Mendoza at any time, even before Del Villar’s preliminary hearing.