Three family members of convicted rapist Spencer Scarber pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to helping the 20-year-old cross the border into Mexico.
Kyle Scarber, the California Highway Patrol's assistant chief in the Fresno area; his wife, Gail Scarber; and her daughter, Crystal Reynoso, were in court for arraignment. Their next hearing is May 1. Before his appointment as assistant chief, Scarber was commander of the CHP's Merced Area Office.
The defendants are accused of three felony counts, including felony conspiracy in helping Spencer Scarber cross into Mexico during his rape trial. He was convicted days later. Gail Scarber faces two felony forgery-related counts for creating false identification for her son.
Outside the courtroom, the family's lawyers promised a vigorous defense of the elder Scarbers and Reynoso.
Chuck Magill, lawyer for Gail Scarber, said pictures taken at the border are poor evidence for prosecutors.
Pictures that prosecutors contend show the Scarbers' car crossing the border and Reynoso and Gail Scarber walking back across the border do not positively identify the women, he said.
Prosecutors say the pair crossed the border Dec. 12, the same morning Spencer Scarber was reported missing by his father.
Magill said the photo of the car is a picture of the license plate, not people inside the car. And, he said, the photo of the women taken as they walked across the border a little over an hour later is of poor quality and shows two dark-haired women at a 90- degree angle from above.
"We have yet to receive that picture," he said.
The family's car was found in Mexico in February.
Marshall Hodgkins, Kyle Scarber's lawyer, said his client is innocent of the charges against him, which include a misdemeanor false police report because he said he saw his son at 1:30 a.m. in their Squaw Valley home two hours before prosecutors says his mother's car crossed the border.
"When he saw Spencer, he was getting ready to go to bed," Hodgkins said.
The Scarbers and Reynoso remain free on bail.
Spencer Scarber is in Fresno County Jail awaiting sentencing on April 12.