MERCED — Jury selection began Tuesday in two separate Merced County homicide cases.
Bryan Bridgeford, 23, is accused of two counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances, in addition to enhancements for using a gun and being a member of a criminal street gang.
He's accused of the shooting deaths 21-year-old Juan Avalos of Dos Palos and 16-year-old Lionel Medina about 1 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2010, inside a detached garage in the 19000 block of Highway 33 near Dos Palos, at the residence where Medina lived.
Authorities believe the killings are gang-related. Another suspect arrested in the case, Henry Delatorre, pleaded no contest in 2011 to two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the killings. He was sentenced to 31 years in prison.
Jose Vidal German, 23, who was arrested in the days after the killings, is awaiting trial. He's being held on a charge of being an accessory after the fact and is expected to testify during Bridgeford's trial, according to Deputy District Attorney David Elgin, who is prosecuting the case with Deputy District Attorney Misty Compton.
The trial is scheduled to take 14 days in Judge Donald Proietti's courtroom.
Chris Caine, Bridgeford's attorney, said he couldn't elaborate about the case before trial, but did say his client did not commit the fatal shootings.
Jury selection also began Tuesday in the homicide trial of Daniel McDonald, 68.
He is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting of his son, Donald McDonald, 46, on April 9, 2011, at the home they shared in the 11000 block of Griffith Avenue in Delhi.
According to sheriff's detectives, Donald McDonald was a mechanic who'd been trying to fix a chainsaw inside the house. After the son was unable to fix the chainsaw, an argument erupted between father and son, authorities say, and Daniel McDonald allegedly grabbed a rifle and fatally shot his son.
Deputy District Attorney Thomas Min is prosecuting the case, while attorney Frank C. Carson is defending McDonald.
The trial is expected to take 10 days in Judge Ronald Hansen's courtroom.