21 Aug 2014
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Jesse Lopez: Better Picture Emerges of Deadly Night

Bail reductions were denied Thursday for three of the men charged in connection with the fatal shooting.

Jesse Lopez: Better Picture Emerges of Deadly Night

The alleged accomplices to on Hecker Pass earlier this month won't get to go home for Christmas, a judge ruled Thursday.

Despite arguments that Juan Carlos Soto Gonzalez, 20, Carlos Valencia, 22, and Uriel Ortiz, 18, are not charged with killing Jesse Lopez, 14, Judge Ariadne Symons decided the young men are a flight risk and possible danger to the community. They were denied both lower bail or own-recognizance release.

Two other men— for allegedly shooting Jesse and another boy, also 14, in a dirt turnout on Highway 152 the night of Dec. 10.

Soto Gonzalez and Valencia have pleaded not guilty to gang participation and being an accessory to a crime. Ortiz has pleaded not guilty to fighting and battery; the second charge came from a jail house fight shortly after his arrest that corrections staff say Ortiz instigated.

In court Thursday, a better picture of the deadly night began to take shape.

The men accused of shooting Jesse are alleged Sureño gang members.

Some of them lured Jesse and the other boy from a quinceañera celebration at the county fairgrounds and Valencia drove the boys up the mountain. Rodriguez was in the car, according to statements made in court during Thursday's hearing as well as Tuesday, when all five defendants were in court.

Soto Gonzalez and Sanchez were in a second vehicle. It wasn't clear where Ortiz was during that time, according to statements made in court and information released by investigators.

Jesse and his friend were met with hostile gunfire in the highway turnout. Both cars sped away, leaving Jesse lying in the gravel, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds. His friend, who had been shot in the leg, ran into the woods to hide until emergency crews arrived.

Less than 90 minutes later, . They were allegedly throwing gang signs and "mad-dogging" two tow truck drivers who'd stopped for coffee at the 7-Eleven store on Chestnut and Laurel streets, according to statements made in court Thursday.

They were arrested fighting and gang participation. A couple days later, the District Attorney's Office added charges related to Jesse's death.

The five will be back in court Jan. 6 to set a date for the preliminary hearing.

All five men were arrested Saturday night in Santa Cruz.

For all of Patch's coverage of Jesse Lopez's death, click here.

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