Local News

Friday, Sep 14 2012 06:17 PM

Suspects accused of robbery spree plead not guilty

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    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    Eric Castilleja, left, and Luis Gonzalez, right, are arraigned Friday afternoon in Kern County Superior Court in connection with a series of shootings and robberies that occurred early Wednesday morning.

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  2. 2 of 3

    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    Attorney Fred Gagliardini places something in the pocket of Luis Gonzalez after entering not guilty pleas on his behalf during Gonzalez's arraignment on Friday afternoon in connection to a series of shootings and robberies early Wednesday morning.

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    By Shelby Mack / The Californian

    Prosecutor Ken Russell talks to media outside the courtroom after the arraignment of Eric Castilleja and Luis Gonzalez on Friday afternoon in connection a series of robberies and shootings that occurred early Wednesday morning.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Two gang members accused of a shooting and robbery spree earlier this week pleaded not guilty to the four felony charges against them Friday afternoon.

Eric Castilleja and Luis Gonzalez are each charged with attempted murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle and two counts of robbery.

Two people were shot and killed during the early Wednesday mayhem in east Bakersfield, and investigators are trying to determine if Castilleja and Gonzalez were responsible, prosecutor Ken Russell said outside court. Bakersfield police have said the investigation is ongoing and that no other suspects were in custody as of late Friday afternoon.

Russell said Castilleja and Gonzalez are members of the Oki Bakers, a Sureno street gang.

Kern County Superior Court Judge Charles R. Brehmer ordered Castilleja held on $1.28 million bail and Gonzalez held on $960,000 bail. Several people who attended the arraignment declined to comment afterward.

The attempted murder charge was filed in connection with the first incident linked to the suspects, the shooting of a man in a vehicle at Baker and Lake streets at 1:06 a.m. Wednesday, Russell said. The suspects demanded property and shot the motorist in the arm, police have said.

At 2:28 a.m., officers responded to the 3300 block of Union Avenue for a report of a victim of an armed robbery, according to Bakersfield police. A taxi driver was the victim.

Officers then went to the 1900 block of Baker Street at 2:35 a.m. and interviewed a pedestrian who was robbed, police said. The victim gave the suspects some items after they brandished a gun and demanded property.

The two killings happened within the same time frame the robberies were taking place. Castilleja and Gonzalez have not been charged in connection with the killings.

At 1:14 a.m., police found Raul Alonso Morales, 36, in the 1000 block of Inyo Street near Lake Street, police said. Morales suffered a fatal gunshot wound to his upper body.

Police then received a report at 2:45 a.m. of a man shot in the 1400 block of Williams Street, according to police. That man, identified as 33-year-old Torik Ezell James, died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Court records show Castilleja was sentenced to seven years, eight months in prison in 2007 after pleading no contest to shooting at a person from a vehicle and pleading guilty to participating in a street gang.

A pre-preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Castilleja and Gonzalez on Sept. 27.

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