Man pleads not guilty to 3 murder counts in shooting of man, pregnant woman near Modesto

Robert Leon Lynch
Robert Leon Lynch

A 74-year-old Modesto man on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder in the shooting of a man, a woman and her unborn child. A prosecutor told the judge the shooting was not a random act of violence.

Robert Leon Lynch is accused of shooting Cynthia Antrim, 30, and Chad Evert Romesha, 41, both of Modesto. Prosecutors added the third count of murder because Antrim was pregnant when she was shot Sunday morning just south of the Tuolumne River.

Deputy District Attorney Wendell Emerson asked the judge to keep Lynch in custody without bail. Emerson argued that Lynch “ambushed” Antrim and Romesha. The prosecutor told the judge that Lynch shot Romesha in the back and shot Antrim in her stomach while she was on the ground.

Stanislaus Superior Judge Thomas Zeff ordered Lynch to remain in jail without bail. The judge appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Lynch.

The defendant entered the courtroom wearing a red and white jail inmate jumpsuit with shackles on his wrists and ankles. Lynch told the judge that he understood the charges against him. He denied enhancements of using premeditation and a gun.

Zeff scheduled Lynch to return to court Tuesday to determine whether the Public Defender’s Office has any conflicts of interest in representing him.

About 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of shots fired in the 600 block of River Road. The shooting occurred near a trailer park just east of South Ninth Street in Modesto.

While en route, deputies learned that two people had been shot. The deputies arrived and found the man and woman with gunshot wounds. Antrim was pronounced dead at the scene. Romesha was taken to Doctors Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries.

Deputies found Lynch at the scene when they arrived. He was taken into custody without further incident and later arrested on suspicion of murder. It’s unclear whether authorities recovered the gun used in the shooting.

Sheriff’s detectives believe both victims were homeless and had been living along the river.