RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A 64-year-old man accused of fatally shooting a Riverside motorist during a road rage confrontation — firing a bullet that narrowly missed one of the victim’s children before killing him — pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and other charges.
Jose Juan Escobedo was arrested last month for allegedly killing 25- year-old Sergio Oporto of Riverside.
Along with murder, Escobedo is charged with attempted murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle, two counts of child endangerment and sentence- enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
The defendant was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sean Crandell, who scheduled a felony settlement conference for May 3 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Escobedo is being held on $1 million bail at the nearby Robert Presley Jail.
According to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback, shortly before 4 p.m. on Feb. 3, Oporto, his girlfriend and their 4-year-old and 3-month old children were driving along East La Cadena Drive when Escobedo allegedly began tailing them closely, angered for reasons still under investigation.
“As they neared the intersection of La Cadena and Citrus Street, the suspect vehicle pulled alongside them,” Railsback said. “The driver appeared to be angry (and) pulled out a firearm, then fired a single gunshot into the car. The bullet penetrated the passenger side of the victim’s car, over the seated 3-month-old child, striking Mr. Oporto in the head.”
Escobedo immediately fled the scene, the police spokesman alleged.
He said that paramedics arrived moments later and found Oporto clinging to life. The victim was taken to Riverside Community Hospital, where he remained in a coma before succumbing to his wound on Feb. 10.
The children and their mom were not injured.
Homicide detectives began piecing together evidence collected at the scene and elsewhere, developing leads that ultimately pointed to Escobedo as the alleged shooter, according to Railsback.
The defendant was taken into custody without incident on Colton Avenue two weeks later.
He has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.
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