A purple car screeched the wrong way on H Street, then came the sound of four pops. Within minutes, paramedics were working to save 22-month-old Josue Becerra, who was shot as he played in front of his home in April 2008.
A neighbor, who is himself facing drug charges and took a deal from prosecutors in exchange for his testimony, recalled what he saw that evening as he smoked a cigarette on his front porch in west Modesto. Prosecutors asked the neighbor's name not be used for his safety.
"I went over to see what was going on," the neighbor said. "People were screaming. I saw (paramedics) were working on the little baby."
The man said he recognized the shooter, David Lee Harper, 32, who he said was sitting on the passenger-side window and leaning over the hood of the car. He said he'd known Harper for years.
Authorities believe Harper's brother, Daniel Paul Harper, 33, was the driver.
The two are charged with two counts each of attempted murder.
Prosecutors also have charged Roneel Rajnesh Prasad, 23, with being an accessory after the crime, including helping the brothers repaint their car to avoid capture.
According to testimony Thursday in Stanislaus County Superior Court, the bullets were meant for Ramiro Serna, who was walking along H Street near the house where the toddler was hit.
Josue was shot in the abdomen about 7:30 p.m. as he played in front of his parents' home a block from Modesto High School. The bullet was lodged in one of his kidneys, but he survived the shooting.
Serna and David Harper had gotten into a fight before the shooting, and Harper had an injury to his face, according to testimony.
David and Daniel Harper are being held in the county jail in lieu of more than $2 million and $500,000 bail, respectively. Prasad is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Judge Timothy Salter must decide if there is enough evidence to hold the three men for trial.
Testimony has been put on hold until Oct. 23.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.