|Shooting suspects in court, Part 4|
Robert Ramirez, 16, John Sanchez, 18, and Hugo Miguel Rodriguez, 18, were in court as suspects in the shooting death of Octavio Acosta. Video by Ryan Brennecke/The Sun
|Shooting suspects in court, Part 3|
James Coil continues to explain further details in the shooting case and how they relate to 15-year-old Cassandra Vargas' bond. Robert Ramirez, 16, John Sanchez, 18, and Hugo Miguel Rodriguez, 18, were also in court as suspects in this case.
|Shooting suspects in court, Part 2|
Robert Ramirez, 16, and Cassandra Vargas, 15, are to be prosecuted as adults in the shooting death of Octavio Acosta. Here, James Coil continues to explain further details in the case and how they relate to Vargas' bond. Video by Ryan Brennecke/The
|Shooting suspects in court, Part 1|
Robert Ramirez, 16, and Cassandra Vargas, 15, are to be prosecuted as adults in the shooting death of Octavio Acosta. Here, James Coil explains further details in the case and how they relate to Vargas' bond. Video by Ryan Brennecke/The Sun
|Victim's mother reads statement|
The mother of Octavio Acosta, who was killed in a shooting last Friday, read a statement to the court at the arraingment of the four suspects in the case. Video by Ryan Brennecke/The Sun
|Vicinity of Shooting||S Jojoba Avenue and E 41st Pl|
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Teen suspects in shooting to be charged as adults
Ramirez, 16, and Vargas, 15, making initial court appearances Tuesday
Two juveniles arrested in connection with a slaying last week will be prosecuted as adults, along with two 18-year-olds also arrested as suspects in the killing.
Hugo Miguel Rodriguez, 18, John Sanchez, 18, Robert Ramirez, 16, and Cassandra Vargas, 15, were arraigned in Yuma Justice Court on murder, kidnapping and other felony charges in what Yuma police are calling a gang-related slaying.
The four are suspects in the murder of 16-year-old Octavio Acosta, who was shot in the early hours of Friday morning at the intersection of 41st Place and Jojoba Avenue.
According to Tim Hardy, director of the Yuma County Juvenile Court, prosecutors with the county attorney's office opted on Monday afternoon to do what is called a "direct file" allowing Ramirez and Cassandra Vargas to be prosecuted as adults in the case.
Prosecutor Jim Coil told Judge David Cooper the killing came after the four listened to music that glorified violence, although he did not say that the music drove them to commit murder.
"The allegation is prior to and during the murder, they were listening to rap music specifically referring to the killing of norteño gang members," said Coil.
Vargas, the youngest of the four defendants, was charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, kidnapping, assisting in a criminal street gang and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
"This defendant, at the behest of her co-conspirators, went to his home late at night, knocked on his window and lured him down the street where she knew her compatriots were waiting to shoot him," Coil said during the court hearing.
"The shooting took place in such a manner that blood got on her shoes, she was standing so close. She was very close to the line of fire."
Coil told the judge that although this couldn't be a capital punishment case, there were aggravating factors present and it could have been one if she were old enough.
"This young person, while she is not risking execution, she is facing the rest of her life behind bars," Coil stated.
Rodriguez, who is allegedly one of the shooters, and Sanchez were both charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, participating in a criminal street gang and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
"Since (Rodriguez) is 18, he can be given the death penalty. We have not made the decision to seek it or not," Coil said. "(Sanchez's) role was as a getaway driver rather than one of the gunmen. While he is responsible to an accomplice liability theory, our information at this time, and our investigation is still ongoing, is that he did not actually pull a trigger."
Ramirez was charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, participating in a criminal street gang and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
"He was on probation for another felony offense at the time he committed this crime," Coil added.
The judge, in addition to setting the defendants' next court dates, also set bonds of over $2 million for each of them.
Rodriguez, Ramirez and Vargas are scheduled to appear next in court on July 25 at 4:45 p.m. for preliminary hearings. Sanchez's next court date was set for July 22 at 4:45 p.m.
The judge also appointed public defenders to represent Sanchez, Ramirez and Rodriguez. Vargas is being represented by defense attorney Bill Crimins.
Police initially responded to a call reporting gunshots around 1:06 a.m. Friday in the area of the 4100 block of South Jojoba Avenue in Yuma. While they were en route, the call was upgraded to a man down in the 6200 block of East 41st Avenue.
There, officers found Acosta, who lived in the area, on the sidewalk with multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.