Preliminary hearing scheduled in Modesto fatal shooting

A judge has scheduled a preliminary hearing to start Jan. 26 for three defendants accused of murder in a north Modesto shooting possibly motivated by drugs.

Authorities say Lamar Oldham, Isaiah Stafford and Luisa Riley are responsible in the Dec. 11 shooting of Damian Villavicencio. The 19-year-old Riverbank man was shot behind the Velvet Grill & Creamery restaurant on McHenry Avenue.

Riley in April was released from custody on her own recognizance. She did not appear in court Monday morning for the brief hearing because the court has allowed her to appear in court only when her attendance is necessary.

The two other defendants, who remain in custody, appeared in court Monday. The case was suspended in August because Stafford’s mental competency came into question.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova on Monday received a report from doctors that indicated Stafford was mentally competent, meaning he can understand the charges against him and assist in his own defense. The judge then reinstated the case and scheduled the preliminary hearing.

At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for the defendants to stand trial. The hearing is expected to last two days.

Córdova also scheduled a pretrial hearing Jan. 9 to ensure the preliminary hearing will start as scheduled.

Stafford and Riley, who were minors when the shooting occurred, are being prosecuted as adults. The three defendants also face charges of attempted murder and attempted robbery in connection with the shooting.

Another 19-year-old Riverbank man was with Villavicencio when they stumbled into the nearby McDonald’s, bleeding and saying they had been shot, witnesses told police. The other man survived the shooting.

Investigators have said the shooting appeared to have been motivated by drugs, specifically marijuana. A man who tried to revive Villavicencio said the victim was holding what looked like marijuana when he came into the restaurant.

Oldham and Stafford face enhancements of using a gun in the incident. Prosecutors say the men committed murder during an attempted robbery and were lying in wait for the victim. If convicted, the enhancements could lengthen the defendants’ prison sentences.