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Sunday, 9 August 2009

Jorge Luis Meza Ruiz, 22, and Raul Lopez, 19, both of Salinas, made their first appearance in court following their arrests

11:16 |

Jorge Luis Meza Ruiz, 22, and Raul Lopez, 19, both of Salinas, made their first appearance in court following their arrests in the fatal shooting Tuesday night of Andres Chavarin outside his home in the 700 block of Yucatan Way.Chavarin's death marked the 20th homicide in the city this year and the sixth gang-related killing in a string of street violence that began July 27. The city saw its 21st homicide of 2009 on Thursday afternoon.Monterey County Superior Court Judge Adrienne Grover continued the arraignment to 1:30 p.m. Monday. Defendants typically plead not guilty during these initial court hearings.Ruiz and Lopez are charged with first-degree murder and acting for the benefit of a criminal street gang. Ruiz is additionally charged with the personal use of a firearm.At 8 p.m. Tuesday, officers found Chavarin lying in the front yard of his home. The teen, who had suffered several gunshot wounds, was taken to Natividad Medical Center and pronounced dead.Witnesses told police they saw two people drive away from the shooting in a white Ford F-250 pickup, and witnesses immediately pointed police to a mobile home park in the 1200 block of Rider Avenue.Near the location, patrol officers encountered the pickup, pulled it over and arrested its occupants, Ruiz and Lopez.Monterey-based attorney Lawrence E. Biegel, who made a special appearance on behalf of Lopez on Thursday afternoon, said in court that he wanted a chance to review the police reports in the homicide arrests before deciding whether to take the case.Grover extended the hearing to give the attorneys time to informally discuss the reports that police forwarded to prosecutors."I just want to know what the allegations are," Biegel said after the hearing.David Rabow, a deputy district attorney, initially declined to allow Biegel access to the reports, saying he was unwilling to show them to someone who was not committing to represent Lopez.During Thursday's hearing, Ruiz listened to the judge's explanation of the charges against him through a Spanish interpreter. Represented by the Public Defender's Office, he agreed to continue his arraignment to Monday. Ruiz remains in custody on $1.1 million bail. Lopez is being held on just over $1 million bail.Biegel said he was contacted by Lopez's family members who are interested in retaining him for the case. He said Lopez's three brothers, a sister and sister-in-law showed up in court on Thursday. Lopez's parents were not present, Biegel said."They're very concerned, obviously [Lopez] is somebody without a record," he said, adding that Lopez is the youngest son in a large family. "His parents are having a very tough time."

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