According to Deputy District Attorney Mark Ott, the court accepted the not-guilty pleas from Daniel Batchelder, 20, and Francisco Limon, 16. Each is charged with premeditated murder, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, street terrorism, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, street gang affiliation, and shooting into an occupied vehicle.
Batchelder also pleaded not guilty to an additional charge of being the driver of a vehicle who knowingly permitted another person to discharge a firearm from that vehicle, Ott said.
Prosecutors have decided to charge Limon an adult.
According to police, the two defendants are responsible for the fatal shooting of Everuvaldo Cruz-Espino at about 2 p.m. Feb. 24. Cruz-Espino sustained a single bullet wound to the neck while he was waiting at a traffic light in his Dodge Neon at the intersection of Tracy Boulevard and Whispering Wind Drive. A passenger reportedly in the Neon at the time was uninjured.
Cruz-Espino died a short time later at a regional hospital.
A witness testified during a preliminary hearing for Limon and Batchelder in mid-June that Limon was riding in the back seat of Batchelder’s Chevy Impala when he shot Cruz-Espino. Testimony during that hearing described two other passengers in the Impala at the time, though they have not been charged by the district attorney’s office.
Both defendants are being held without bail. Batchelder remains in San Joaquin County Jail, while Lemon is in San Joaquin Juvenile Hall, both in French Camp.
Their jury trial has been set for 9 a.m. Jan. 28 in Department 14 in Stockton court.
Defense attorneys for both defendants were unavailable for comment.
• Contact Denise E. Rizzo at 830-4225 or email@example.com.