Three Bakersfield residents accused of helping a man who authorities say shot and killed a police officer in Stanislaus County made their first court appearance Wednesday. 

Not-guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Bernabe Madrigal Castaneda, 59, Erasmo Villegas, 36, and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, during a brief court appearance before Kern County Superior Court Judge Colette M. Humphrey. Each is charged with being an accessory after the fact and is being held on $1 million bail. 

Anaheim-based attorney Willard Bakeman is currently representing Moreno, but is seeking a waiver to represent all three defendants. 

Authorities allege the three helped Gustavo Arriaga, 32, who is charged in the Dec. 26 shooting death of Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh during a traffic stop. 

District Attorney-elect Cynthia Zimmer, who takes office next week, attended the hearing and afterward said the three defendants face a maximum of three years in prison.

"It is illegal to harbor anyone who is running from the law," she said.

The three also face federal charges of harboring a fugitive in the country illegally. Zimmer said she will be speaking with federal authorities to determine whether they will take over the case or whether the prosecution in Kern County will go forward.

Or both could happen, Zimmer said, with the three first being tried on the accessory charge then being tried on the federal charges. 

Castaneda, Moreno and Villegas are next due in court Jan. 14. 

(8) comments

Boogerface Nutter

I'm pretty sure these people knew what they were doing.
Now, for all the immigrant haters, there are a zillion illegal aliens in Kern County. Good, hard-working, honest and honorable people. Don't judge those people along with the people who enabled a murderer.
Do you judge every white person in the US by the actions of one white murderer?
I doubt it.
Like I always say, "I reserve the right to hate people individually"


Called Harris and Feinstein (voicemail) to "Build The Fence" (all walls and fences are first passive barriers to entry . . . or re-entry as with Offcer Singh's murderer). Suggest y'all do likewise . . . reminding them of this:

Boogerface Nutter

The wall is a vanity effect for the president. How soon we forget who is supposed to be paying for a wall on our southern border. I you?


Three years maximum???? What a travesty. If you help a cop killer run away, you deserve a lot more than 3 years. Twenty years minimum, then dropped off at the southern most tip of Mexico. If you come back, you’re in prison for life.


Clearly Bakeman is as low life POS


@BanditIvy - Clearly? You're innocent until proven guilty in America and defense attorneys are a huge part of the system that makes that work.


The defendents' first mistake was harboring a murderer, whether they knew what he had done (they did) or not. The second mistake was hiring a lawyer from LA. Speaking from experience, Bakersfield juries don't like LA lawyers.

Boogerface Nutter

I wonder if they hired the LA guy or if he jumped on the chance for some free publicity?
Like you say, plenty of good defense lawyers in Kern County.

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