Trial date set in suspected gang homicide

12/09/2013 7:30 PM

12/09/2013 11:16 PM

A January 2014 trial date has been set for a Dos Palos man charged with a fatal stabbing that took place nearly a year ago.

Edwin C. Martinez, 20, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge and denied street-gang and weapons enhancements in connection with the Jan. 5 stabbing death of 21-year-old Juan Carlos Cuadras, according to Merced County Superior Court records.

Martinez appeared in court Friday before Judge Mark V. Bacciarini. The judge scheduled a jury trial for Jan.28, Deputy District Attorney Steve Slocum said.

Authorities said Cuadras was stabbed about 10 p.m. Jan. 5 outside a home in the 2000 block of Walnut Avenue in Dos Palos. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Memorial Hospital in Dos Palos, investigators have said.

Dos Palos police said Cuadras intervened in an argument between Martinez and an unidentified woman during a small gathering at the home. Exactly what was said during the dispute has not been made clear.

Investigators have said they believe Cuadras was trying to prevent violence when he was killed.

Police said Martinez ran away after stabbing Cuadras. He surrendered to police about 10 days later, according to previous reports. Cuadras’ death was the first homicide of the year in Merced County.

It is not clear if authorities have recovered a weapon in the case.

Police said Cuadras and Martinez had connections to rival criminal street gangs. Martinez has been charged with two street-gang enhancements that could add years to a prison sentence if he is convicted.

Martinez remains in custody at the Merced County Jail without bail.

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