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.