Crime

Merced pastor appears in court on attempted murder charges

A Merced pastor pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder Friday in connection with the shootings of three people – two adopted family members and one of their boyfriends.

Raul Diaz Moreno, a 52-year-old pastor at Victory Outreach church in Merced, entered his plea before Judge Ronald W. Hansen in Merced Superior Court, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office said.

His attorney, George Herman, was not immediately available for comment Friday.

Diaz Moreno is charged with shooting two women, ages 17 and 19, and a 21-year-old man Oct. 28 outside a home in the 4600 block of Beckman Way in north Merced. All three victims are expected to recover. Diaz Moreno surrendered to the Merced Police Department following a standoff at the home that lasted more than two hours.

No new charges were added to the case against the pastor Friday, but authorities are investigating allegations that Diaz Moreno fired at least two gunshots at police officers during the standoff. Detectives also are investigating allegations of “inappropriate touching” made by at least one of the female shooting victims, whom Diaz Moreno had been raising as his adopted daughters, authorities have said.

Prosecutors and police have confirmed both allegations are part of their ongoing investigation. Family members have refused to comment.

Scott Drexel, the Merced County deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, said authorities “will have a better idea” where the case is heading when Diaz Moreno appears in court again Nov. 21.

If convicted of the current charges, Diaz Moreno faces a possible sentence of 85 years to life in prison, authorities have said.

He remains in custody at the John Latorraca Correctional Facility on $1 million bail.

Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482

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