Men to face trial in Atwater shooting death of partygoer

The second trial of two men accused of shooting a 20-year-old Atwater man to death in 2005 is set to begin next week in Merced County Superior Court.

The court is scheduled to issue questionnaires to prospective jurors today in the trial of Robby Lee Maule, 24, and Raul Herrera, 23. Both men are defendants in the Oct. 2, 2005, shooting death of Korey David Suttles in front of an apartment complex in the 800 block of Carter Way in Atwater.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Moranda said jury selection will probably be completed by Oct. 14, with opening statements beginning shortly thereafter.

Investigators allege the shooting happened around 12:30 a.m. when Maule and Herrera walked up to a group of men in a garage and opened fire. According to Detective Armando Echevarria of the Atwater Police Department, the shooting happened after an argument at a party.

Echevarria said the defendants had left the party, only to later return, shooting Suttles in the torso. Suttles was flown to a Modesto hospital and later died. Echevarria said the defendants are documented members of a criminal street gang.

Herrera was arrested Nov. 6, 2005, by a sheriff’s deputy pursuing an anonymous tip. Maule was taken into custody Nov. 15 after officers received the tip that he was hiding in his parents’ East 22nd Street house.

A Merced County jury deadlocked in the defendants’ first trial in December 2006. The jury had deliberated for three days, but was unable to reach a decision.

Although the defendants are being tried together, Maule will be represented by defense attorney Thomas Pfeiff, while Herrera will be represented by defense attorney Vincent Andrade,The defendants are charged with first-degree murder and gang enhancements and face maximum terms of life in prison if convicted. They remain in the Merced County Jail.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.