Mother & son enter pleas in shooting of woman, 91
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- New details came out in court Wednesday as a mother and her 17-year-old son faced a judge for the first time for their alleged roles in the shooting of a 91-year-old San Joaquin woman.
For now, the 17-year-old boy and his 35-year-old mother are in different wings of the Fresno County jail. But after Tuesday's court hearing, one of them could be out very soon.
Wearing the orange uniform of a juvenile defendant,17-year-old Oscar Soto also wore a look of fear. We're revealing his name because he's being charged as an adult.
Soto didn't say a word as his attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. He's accused of shooting 91-year-old Marcella Miller and faces charges of attempted murder and robbery.
Miller's family installed a new security system after the Thanksgiving attack and a contractor was at the house Tuesday to fix damage from the gunfire.
Soto's mother, Gina Valdez, is charged with being an accessory after the crime and prosecutors have now revealed how they believe she helped her son.
"When his mother found out, she did what she could to dissuade family members and children from telling the police anything that might assist them in locating or identifying the juvenile suspect in this case," said prosecutor Robert Romanacce.
Investigators say Valdez even took the shotgun her son used and got rid of it. She also had legal trouble earlier this year for failing to send her children to school at San Joaquin Elementary and Tranquillity High. Since 2008, she's pleaded guilty to nine truancy charges. CPS took custody of the other four children after sheriff's deputies arrested Valdez. Some neighbors say the whole family was trouble.
"They'd been overdue in being taken away or being locked up," said Maria Guadalupe Chavez.
Chavez says Soto and her son spent time in juvenile detention for breaking into vehicles. Managers at the development where Valdez and Soto lived say the family broke windows and vandalized the property. They were on the verge of getting kicked out, even before they were arrested.
Both Soto and Valdez are due back in court in two weeks. His bail is set at almost $3 million. Hers is just $5,000 and she's a potential candidate for early release because of overcrowding.
shooting, san joaquin, home invasion, tranquility, crimetracker, fresno county, local, corin hoggard
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