The Union Democrat

A Washington man accused of murdering his half-sister after she was found dead inside of a burnt-out Chevrolet SUV near Copperopolis pleaded not guilty to first degree murder charges on Friday at the Calaveras County Superior Court.

David Fagundes, 41, was dressed in an orange jumpsuit and spoke only to acknowledge to Judge Richard Meyer that he understood his constitutional rights. Unlike any other defendant in the custody of the Calaveras County Jail who appeared before him, Fagundes was accompanied by a uniformed Calaveras County Sheriff’s deputy who stood beside him during the hearing.

Besides the murder charge, Fagundes was with arson causing great bodily injury, criminal threats and obstructing or resisting an executive officer.

Fagundes faces a special allegation of a murder involving torture and an enhancement of personally using a deadly weapon on the the first degre murder charge. He is also charged with enhancements of having a serious felony conviction in another jurisdiction and committing a felony at least five years ago with a prior prison term.

Fagundes was found in tall grass along Lower Telegraph Road on May 29, just south of Highway 4 and seven miles west of Copperopolis, about 11 hours after fire officials and Calaveras County deputies extinguished a car fire in a red Chevrolet HHR and found a body inside.

The victim — who was burned beyond recognition — was identified was Toni Jilbert Ferreira, 49, of Manteca, Fagundes’ half sister. Her cause of death has not been released.

The second amended complaint filed in the case specified a knife as the weapon. The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said Fagundes was in possession of a medium-sized folding pocket knife after his arrest.

Fagundes was shuttled in and out of the courtroom one time before being seated beside his attorney, Leigh Fleming, a Calaveras County public defender.

Just before he was brought out, she told Calaveras County Deputy District Attorney Brad Jones, “I’ll talk to him. I’ll talk to him.”

Meyer played white noise from a courtroom speaker while they conferred with each other.

When the volume was turned down, Fleming announced Fagundes would submit not guilty pleas on all the charges and deny all the enhancements.

Fagundes’ preliminary hearing to determine if the charges will be brought to trial was set for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 19 in Department 1 of the Calaveras County Superior Court.

Deputy District Attorney Brad Jones said the court should expect the preliminary hearing to take up to an entire court day.

“It could be done in half a day, but it may need a full day,” Jones said.

A pre-preliminary hearing was set for Sept. 13 and a hearing was set for Aug. 9 to confirm which judge will hear the matter.

According to the Calaveras County Superior Court website, Judge Timothy Healy will preside over the upcoming hearings.

A Calaveras County Sheriff’s deputy identified as the arresting officer wrote in a document requesting Fagundes be held without bail that Fagundes said during the standoff, “I have a gun and I am going to shoot you.”

The standoff occurred at about 5:35 p.m. Emergency crews responded to the car fire at about 7 a.m.

The deputy, standing next to the burnt vehicle, said he heard a lieutenant yelling from a quarter mile away, and noticed Fagundes laying in the high grass. Fagundes refused to show his hands and said he had a handgun in his left hand. He later claimed to have a “forty five and was going to ‘shoot’ us,” the deputy wrote.

The deputy also said Fagundes told deputies they had to shoot him on his chest before he could shoot at them and raised his right hand in a quick motion as if he had a weapon.

Fagundes agreed to show his left hand if given water, the deputy said, but did not comply after the water was given to him.

Two non-lethal rounds, SWAT and K-9 Nox were deployed to take him into custody. He didn’t have a firearm, the deputy wrote.

Fagundes later admitted to using methamphetamine the day before, but denied feeling the effects, the deputy wrote. He said Fagundes had “uncontrollable body movements and paranoia.”

Also according to the document, Fagundes was the registered owner of the burned car.

According to authorities in Washington, Fagundes was convicted of manslaughter in a downtown Spokane stabbing death in 2012 and was sentenced to serve six and a half years in a Washington state prison.

He was also arrested in Spokane County in September 2018 on charges of felony possession of a controlled substance, hit and run in a vehicle with property damage and driving while under the influence of a drug.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.