A 34-year-old man pleaded not guilty Friday to leaving an infant and a toddler in a vehicle overnight while he went on what police described as a drug-induced crime spree in Merced.
Joshua J. Jaboneta of North Las Vegas, Nev., denied felony charges of child endangerment and vandalism as well as misdemeanor counts of battery, aggravated trespassing and being under the influence of narcotics. He entered his plea Friday afternoon before Commissioner Jeanne E. Schechter in Merced Superior Court, according to court records.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office filed formal charges Friday morning against Jaboneta for the string of crimes he allegedly committed Tuesday night while apparently forgetting that his two boys, ages 10 months and 3 years old, were in his vehicle.
Jaboneta was ordered to return to court Wednesday for a bail-review hearing. He remains in custody at John Latorraca Correctional Facility with bail set at more than $100,000, according to booking records.
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Steve Slocum, the supervising deputy district attorney who filed the charges, said it was too early to comment on the case. Slocum confirmed that prosecutors have not ruled out the possibility of filing additional charges.
The Merced County Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent Jaboneta. Defense attorneys could not be reached for comment.
Jaboneta was arrested Tuesday night and was in custody for about 12 hours before police discovered the children had been left inside his vehicle. Officers learned of the children after one of Jaboneta’s relatives contacted police on Wednesday morning, police reported.
Officers located the boys about 10 a.m. Wednesday. They were inside a vehicle in the 200 block of West 18th Street. Both boys were cold but uninjured. They were taken to an area hospital for medical examinations and then turned over to Child Protective Services.
Jaboneta is accused of vandalizing several homes and businesses Tuesday night in the 100 block of West 18th Street. At one point Tuesday, Jaboneta allegedly entered a home in the 100 block of West 18th Street and grabbed a woman – picking her up and then putting her down. He told her that she was not the one he was looking for, police said in a news release.
There were no reports of any injuries.
Sun-Star staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.