A preliminary hearing has been set for the defendant charged with the Dec. 26 murder of Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Ricardo Cordova last Friday scheduled the preliminary hearing to start Dec. 10. During that hearing the judge will decide if there is sufficient evidence for the murder case against defendant Paulo Virgen Mendoza to proceed to trial.
Cordova set aside four days for the preliminary hearing, although the hearing may not take that full time to complete.
The judge also scheduled a June 24 conference to discus the status of the discovery process in the case.
Defense attorney Stephen Foley had objected to the request of Deputy District Attorney Jeff Mangar, who is prosecuting the case, that a preliminary hearing be scheduled for late in the year.
Foley expressed concern about whether he would be prepared for a preliminary hearing due to the amount of discovery work which must be completed.
Discovery is the information, including reports and statements, which the defense and prosecutors share with one another.
“It depends on when we get all the discovery,” Foley said in response to Cordova’s question about the attorney’s anticipated time frame. “I don’t know when that will be.”
Foley said that the discovery process will involve information numbering into the thousands of pages, and said many interviews remain to be done. A large number of agencies are involved, he noted.
Mangar put that number at 12 agencies. He said prosecutors are promptly handing over information to the defense as they receive it.
“I don’t know how much more might be out there, but as soon as we receive it we discover it over,” he said in court Friday.
A special circumstances enhancement in the criminal complaint filed against Mendoza makes the case eligible for the death penalty. Mangar said Friday in court that prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty in the case.
Mendoza is being held without bail in Stanislaus County Jail.
He is accused of shooting Singh during a traffic stop in the early morning hours of Dec. 23.
Mendoza, who was booked under the name Gustavo Perez Arriaga, was captured in the Bakersfield area following an extensive 55-hour manhunt. Authorities contend he was trying to flee to Mexico.
Seven other individuals face charges of aiding Mendoza after the shooting.