Arraignment delayed in shooting of Modesto toddler

The three men accused in the shooting of a west Modesto toddler appeared in court Friday afternoon, but their arraignment was postponed because their court-appointed attorneys might have possible conflicts.

Police detectives believe David Lee Harper, 30, shot 22-month-old Josue Becerra as he played in front of his home April 25. Josue was hit in the abdomen and the bullet remains lodged in one of his kidneys, but he has been released from the hospital.

Harper was charged with two felony counts of attempted murder stemming from Josue's injury as well as allegedly shooting at the intended target, Ramiro Serna, according to the criminal complaint.

Police said Serna was walking near Josue's home when the gunfire started.

Harper also was charged with two felony counts of assault with a firearm and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Authorities believe two other men helped Harper hide evidence and evade capture after the shooting: his brother Daniel Paul Harper Jr., 32, and Roneel Rajnesh Prasad, 22. All three are from Modesto.

Daniel Harper and Prasad each were charged with one felony count of being an accessory to a crime.

Their arraignment was postponed until 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Department 1 of the Stanislaus County Superior Court.

Judge Timothy Salter set David Harper's bail at $2.025 million and $50,000 each for Daniel Harper and Prasad.

Three defense attorneys appeared with the defendants in court, but possible conflicts of interest prevented the arraignment from moving forward. The conflicts include representing either of the defendants in a prior case.

The defendants were released from prison on parole within the past nine months, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at or 578-2394.

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