Modesto brothers charged in shooting toddler; gang rival was target

Two Modesto brothers will face a jury on charges of attempted murder after they shot a 22-month-old boy as he played in the front yard of his west Modesto house.

Police believe David Lee Harper, 32, meant to shoot a gang rival walking through the neighborhood when the toddler, Josue Becerra, was shot in April 2008.

Authorities believe Harper's brother, Daniel Paul Harper, 33, drove as his brother leaned from the passenger-side window over the hood of the car and sprayed the H Street sidewalk with bullets.

Both Harper brothers face a host of gun charges and enhancements that could send them to prison for life if convicted.

Prosecutors have charged Roneel Rajnesh Prasad, 23, with being an accessory after the crime, including helping the brothers repaint their car to avoid capture. Prasad faces a maximum of six years in prison.

According to testimony 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.

The three defendants will be arraigned Jan. 11.

Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at or 578-2337.