With legal representation and a court interpreter nearby, Bernabe Castaneda, second from left with a sheet of paper obscuring his face, Erasmo Villegas, third from left, and Maria Moreno, right, stand during their arraignment on charges they helped a fugitive who allegedly shot and killed Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh during a traffic stop in Stanislaus County.

The Kern County District Attorney's office has dismissed state charges against three local residents accused of aiding the alleged killer of a Stanislaus County police officer because the defendants will be tried in federal court, where they face more serious punishment.

Bernabe Madrigal Castaneda, Maria Louis Moreno and Erasmo Villegas were each charged Jan. 2 with being an accessory to the murder of Officer Ronil Singh by harboring Gustavo Perez Arriaga, the officer's alleged killer. 

On Jan. 14, the DA's office, in consultation with federal authorities, agreed to defer to federal prosecution of the three as they "face a more serious punishment under federal laws than what California's newly revised criminal justice statutes allow," according to a DA's news release. 

Under Assembly Bill 109, convictions on a charge of being an accessory to any crime — including murder — are no longer eligible for state prison terms, only local jail terms, the release said. 

(2) comments


hang em...


Build the Wall....

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.