Man accused of shooting Newman cop appears in Stanislaus County courtroom

The man accused of killing Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh during a traffic stop in late December was in a Stanislaus County courtroom Thursday morning.

Paulo Virgen Mendoza sat quietly next to his attorney, Stephen Foley, who asked the judge to schedule two more pretrial hearings before testimony is scheduled to begin Dec. 10 in a preliminary hearing.

The defense attorney said he has recently received more discovery evidence from the prosecution, so he wants to update the court before the December hearing to determine if there’s sufficient evidence for Mendoza to stand trial.

“We want to make sure that we’re ready,” Foley told the judge.

Mendoza, 32, has been charged with murder in Singh’s death. His attorney has entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Mendoza.

The defendant is accused of shooting Singh during a Dec. 26 traffic stop in Newman. Mendoza is still identified in Stanislaus County Jail records as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, an alias. But he’s referred to in court by his given name.

Authorities say Mendoza shot Singh shortly after the police corporal pulled Mendoza over near the intersection of Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue on suspicion of driving under the influence. Mendoza was captured near Bakersfield after a 55-hour manhunt.

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova scheduled Mendoza — who remains in jail — to return to court on Sept. 23 and Oct. 25 for the pretrial hearings.

A special circumstances enhancement listed in the criminal complaint makes the case against Mendoza eligible for the death penalty.

Deputy District Attorney Jeff Mangar told Córdova that the District Attorney’s Office had not made a decision whether to seek the death penalty against Mendoza.

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Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.