MERCED — A February trial date was set Tuesday for a suspected gang member charged with shooting another man in the back in 2010.
Demetrius Thomas Jr., 21, of Merced, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted premeditated murder and assault with a firearm in connection with the Sept. 10, 2010, attack on a 20-year-old man. He denied enhancements of personally discharging a firearm and criminal street gang participation, according to Merced County Superior Court records.
Deputy District Attorney Misty Compton said she could not comment on the reason for the three-year delay in bringing the case to trial.
Judge Marc A. Garcia ordered jury questionnaires to be sent by Feb. 11 and scheduled jury selection to begin Feb. 18, Compton confirmed.
A 20-year-old man, whose name was withheld for safety reasons, was shot in the back on a bicycle path south of the 3300 of San Ramon Court near the intersection of R Street and Buena Vista Drive.
At the time of the shooting, Merced police said the victim had no gang ties and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Investigators said the incident might have been connected to an earlier shooting in which no one was hurt.
Police said the victim told them he was walking east on the trail with friends when he heard what he thought were fireworks, then felt a stinging sensation in his back and realized he had been shot. He was flown to an area hospital and recovered, authorities have said.
Police arrested Thomas a short time later at a Loughborough-area residence on Santa Rosa Court, a short distance from where the shooting was reported.
Thomas remains in custody at the Merced County Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to jail records.
Reporter Rob Parsons can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 385-2482.