A Merced former pastor convicted of rape and attempted murder was granted more time on Monday to seek a new trial.
Raul Diaz Moreno, who once led the Victory Outreach church, opened fire Oct. 28, 2016, shooting one of his adopted daughters in the head and the other in the leg outside his home on Beckman Way in Merced, according to investigators. His attorney, Kathy Lynn Trosclair, asked the court for more time to file for a new trial.
Trosclair was also relieved as Diaz Moreno's attorney on Monday by Merced County Superior Court Judge Ronald W. Hansen. The defendant is expected to be appointed a new attorney, though Trosclair said she will still be involved in some capacity.
"We're not abandoning Mr. Moreno. We are still going to fight for him," she said.
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The now 54-year-old Merced man also shot another man who was helping the young women, the Merced Police Department reported.
Monday's hearing was testy at times with Trosclair and Merced County Deputy District Attorney Scott Drexel accusing each other of being unprofessional.
Diaz Moreno's appointed attorney will be charged with filing for the new trial.
"I can tell you that I'm confident that sentencing will proceed," Drexel said after the hearing. "I'm just always concerned about victims. This is so difficult for victims to come in here and talk about."
Trosclair pointed to some discrepancies in how the jury filled out verdict paperwork, as well as changes she said were made to a verdict sheet by the judge. She said she was also not allowed to question one of the victims on the stand about statements she said were related to her pregnancy.
Those details are some of the at least 15 reasons Diaz Moreno could deserve a new trial, Trosclair said on Monday, including not being provided with police reports until after the trial began.
The shooting in 2016 prompted a nearly three-hour standoff with Merced police in which Diaz Moreno initially intended to end his own life, prosecutors said during the trial. Police said Diaz Moreno fired three shots at officers during the standoff. Police eventually convinced Diaz Moreno to surrender and he was taken into custody.
During the month-long trial, prosecutors described a life of abuse that victimized the young sisters from an early age. Taken in by Diaz Moreno after they essentially were abandoned by their mother early on, the sisters were sexually abused beginning as early as kindergarten, according to prosecutors.
"Mr. Moreno did not sexually abuse his daughters. I am 250 percent positive of that," Trosclair said on Monday. "I know he didn't do that. I've spent lots of time with his family."
The jurors found Diaz Moreno guilty of all 14 charges, including multiple counts of attempted murder, assault, shooting at police, aggravated sexual assault, sodomy by force, lewd acts and oral copulation with minors. He faces a minimum of 120 years to life in prison, according to prosecutors.
Violence erupted outside the home in 2016 when the older sister, who had moved out months earlier, returned to the home to take her younger sister away, prosecutors said. Diaz Moreno tried to prevent the sisters from leaving with the older sister's boyfriend.
Though he was not sentenced on Monday, one of the victims was allowed to read her impact statement. Brianna Moreno, who has spoken to the Sun-Star before, said she struggles with anger towards her father while still longing for a family.
She says she has been ostracized by much of the family.
"This is the hardest goodbye to say to someone who hurt me when all you wanted from them was love and affection," she said.