Not-guilty pleas in Yuba City shooting, chase
Three people charged in the drug-related weekend shooting of a Yuba City teenager pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Sutter County Superior Court.
Jessie James Sotelo, 21, of Sacramento, Vaipou Garrigan-Afamasaga, 18 of Elk Grove, and a 16-year-old male from Elk Grove denied involvement in the robbery and shooting Saturday afternoon in the 700 block of Taber Avenue.
Sotelo's girlfriend and two of his brothers were in court Tuesday.
"People should be careful not to rush to judgment because it's clear that not all of the facts have come out, yet," Robert Grayson, Sotelo's older brother, said following the court appearance.
The teenage victim was shot in the abdomen, police said, after an argument broke out over a marijuana purchase.
Sotelo and the teenage defendant received public defenders and were ordered back to court July 11.
Garrigan-Afamasaga's family hired local defense attorney Jesse Santana. Garrigan-Afamasaga was ordered back to court Thursday for further arraignment.
All three remain in custody without bail.
Police believe at least some of those allegedly involved may belong to the same criminal street gang, but said their suspected membership is most likely incidental to the shooting. "This appears to be strictly a drug deal gone bad," Lt. Tom Tappe said Tuesday.
Sotelo, the suspected triggerman, faces a maximum sentence of 41 years to life in prison, if convicted.
He was also shot below the waist shortly after the teenage victim.
Initial reports indicating the 16-year-old suspect had been shot proved unfounded.
Officers have said there is no evidence the victim had any weapon and have also said he was not shot by police, but it remains unclear if his wounds were self-inflicted or the result of friendly fire.
Police said Sotelo and the other two defendants left the scene in a white Pontiac after the shooting.
They were eventually captured in the 1600 block of McCune Avenue after ditching the car and hopping several fences before falling into a chicken coop.
Police said the defendants may have tossed two handguns out of the car as they fled in the area of Highway 20 and Walton Avenue.
Investigators did not find the weapons during a subsequent search of the area.
Officers are seeking the public's help locating the missing handguns.
"It's possible somebody picked them up not knowing they had been used in a crime, and we'd like to find them as soon as possible," Tappe said.
Tappe said the weapons could be dropped off at the department and also said information could be left on the department's anonymous tip line.
Anyone with information can contact the department at 822-4660 or call the tip line at 822-2026.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at email@example.com or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.