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Judge rules 19-year-old man can be tried for murder in killing of Golden Valley student

A Merced County Superior Court judge has determined ample evidence exists to try a 19-year-old man for murder in the killing of 17-year-old Golden Valley High School student DeAngelo Smith.

Prosecutors believe defendant Juan Manuel Mendez drove a getaway car carrying three unknown assailants involved in the May 14 shooting, reported at the Sunnyside Apartments in the 900 block of D Street. He'll also be tried for attempted murder because a 16-year-old boy was injured in the shooting, according to the Merced County District Attorney's Office.

Judge Carol Ash made the decision to move the case forward for trial, following a preliminary hearing Friday.

After the shooting, Mendez allegedly drove the assailants away and later hid the guns under his bedroom mattress. Mendez told the police he didn't know the three shooters, but still drove them to the apartment complex because they'd called him and asked to be taken there. Mendez claimed he hid the weapons at the request of the other suspects, according to prosecutors.

Mendez is being held in lieu of $2.5 million bail.

Merced police are asking anyone with information about the shooting or the three outstanding suspects to call Detective Christopher Russell at (209) 564-2526 or the department's automated tip line at (209) 365-4725. Calls are kept confidential and you can remain anonymous.

-- Sun-Star staff

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