Both Juan Manuel Tello, 26, of Modesto, and Alexander Hernandez Lopez, 26, of Salida, appeared in court for what was to be a preliminary examination — a hearing that effectively acts as a small trial that determines if there is enough evidence to move forward with a full trial. Both Tello and Salida face murder charges in the case.
Attorneys from both sides, however, cited in open court the possibility of separating one of the defendants from the trial as the need for yet another delay for the court hearing.
A preliminary exam has been postponed twice in the case since April.
Judge Ricardo Cordova then set a new preliminary examination date for January 13 at 1:30 p.m.
Outside of court, Lopez’s attorney Robert Forkner confirmed that his client was in negotiations for a plea deal and stated that his client was not at the scene of the crime when Ruvalcaba was killed.
“We’re hopeful (Lopez) will be separated of this and absolved at the next court date,” Forkner said. “(Lopez) was not present at the scene and we hope the D.A. will dismiss the murder case against him.”
Frank Carson, attorney for Tello, would not comment on the possibility of the two defendants separating — in essence creating two separate trials on the matter. He said no plea deal had been reached regarding Tello.
“I think it’s a weak case against both of them,” he said.
Police found Ruvalcaba’s body in an alley between Martin Luther King Boulevard and North Madison Avenue in Modesto shortly after receiving a 7:24 p.m. report about a man down on Dec. 16, 2011. Several people who knew Ruvalcaba have said he was lured to the alley after stopping at a nearby home and was shot several times in the face, but police have given no specific details about the shooting.
Tello and Lopez have been charged with murder and with cultivating hashish or marijuana for sale. Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges in February 2012.
Bail for each man is set at $2 million, and both men are being held at the Stanislaus County Jail, where they have been since their arrests in January, 2012.
Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.