Fabian Zaragoza, the man accused of killing a 3-month-old boy during a gang-related shooting more than six years ago, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to murder and other charges in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Zaragoza, now 23, allegedly fired 15 shots into a car containing the parents of Izack Jesus Jimenez Garcia and his 3-year-old brother as the family left a baby shower on Wisteria Lane in East Palo Alto at about 1 a.m. on June 5, 2011. Izack was shot in the head and later died at Stanford Hospital.
The parents, Ivonne Garcia Lopez and Oscar Jimenez, were injured. Investigators believe Zaragoza and another person fired shots at the family after mistaking them for Sureno gang members who had beaten up Zaragoza in Redwood City on May 31, 2011. Zaragoza was 17 years old at the time, but his case is to be tried in adult court, a judge determined. He remains in custody without bail.
The crime ignited community outrage and a crackdown on gang violence in East Palo Alto that included multiple law enforcement agencies working collaboratively.
The case has been delayed by a number of twists and turns. On Aug. 17, 2011, a San Mateo County criminal grand jury returned an indictment charging Zaragoza with murder with a special circumstance of lying in wait; two counts of attempted murder with the infliction of great bodily injury; and use of a firearm.
In addition to those charges, he is also now charged with a gang enhancement, conspiracy and shooting at an occupied vehicle. The enhancements increase the penalty if convicted. Zaragoza faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Zaragoza's attorney, Peter Goldscheider, argued in December 2011 that evidence presented to the grand jury was insufficient to support the charges. But Presiding Judge Lisa Novak rejected the motion to dismiss.
The case was further delayed as another defendant, Eric Valencia Vargas, was also charged with the crimes. He has also been implicated in the Sunny Day gang murders. On Feb. 17, 2016, the charges in the Izack case were dismissed against Vargas, but a motion to also dismiss the case against Zaragoza was denied.
Zaragoza will return to court on Oct. 25 to set new jury trial and pretrial conference dates.