16-year-old juvenile to be tried for South Dos Palos homicide

A Dos Palos teenager was ordered to stand trial on Monday for the suspected gang-related shooting death of another teenager last year.

Ryan O. Suarez, 16, has pleaded not guilty in connection with the June 23 death of 15-year-old John Carlos Cordero-Juarez at a park on Reynolds Avenue in South Dos Palos.

Suarez has been charged as an adult because of the serious nature of the case, Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert Carroll said.

Prosecutors are seeking a firearm-use enhancement, according to Merced County Superior Court records.

Judge Thomas Harrington held Suarez to answer on the murder charge on Monday after a preliminary examination, defense attorney Jeffrey Tenenbaum confirmed.

One person testified Monday and said Suarez was seen firing on the victim, Tenenbaum said.

The identity of the witness is being withheld by the Sun-Star because of the suspected gang connections in the case.

Carroll declined to discuss specifics in the case, but he confirmed prosecutors are seeking additional gang-sentencing enhancements. “It’s another of the senseless gang shootings that are plaguing our county,” he said.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department said the shooting occurred in a park after some type of altercation. Investigators described the incident as gang rivalry.

Suarez was ordered to return to court Feb. 27 for arraignment.

He remains in custody.