Joshua Rodriguez

Joshua Amondo Rodriguez, 20, of Tuolumne, is accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Eric Aguiar, of Jamestown, in a parking lot near Sonora High School on Sept. 16.

Joshua Amondo Rodriguez, a jailed Tuolumne man accused of fatally shooting 17-year-old Eric Aguiar in a parking lot by the Sonora High School campus on Sept. 16, appeared via video in a Sonora courtroom for the first time Wednesday and a judge set his bail at $2.5 million.

The accused man is being charged by the Tuolumne County District Attorney with one count of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and one count of threatening a witness. All five charges carry firearm enhancements.

Rodriguez faces a maximum sentencing of 144 years to life in prison if he is convicted of all the charges he faces, prosecutors have calculated.

Asked outside court if prosecutors intend to charge any other suspects with crimes in connection with the killing of Aguiar, District Attorney Laura Krieg said her office’s investigation is continuing and she had no comment on whether others will be charged.

Rodriguez, 20, appeared just before 5 p.m. on live video from Tuolumne County Jail wearing an orange-red top with a collar. He expressed himself loudly and in an upbeat tone as he answered questions and spoke to Superior Court Presiding Judge Donald Segerstrom in Department 1 in the Historic Tuolumne County Courthouse on Yaney Avenue.

Segerstrom read out the charges against Rodriguez, saying explicitly that he’s charged with the murder of Aguiar in which he discharged a handgun. 

Segerstrom said Rodriguez is also charged with the attempted murders of three individuals who he identified by first name and last initial. He also said Rodriguez is charged with attempting to dissuade a separate witness by means of force or implied threat of force.

Rodriguez was on an own-recognizance release for an unspecified case in Stanislaus County at the time of the killing of Aguiar, Segerstrom said.

Segerstrom asked Rodriguez if he wants to be represented by an attorney, and Rodriguez said he has an attorney, whom he identified as Mr. Baker, and asked if his appearance could be Thursday when Mr. Baker can be present.

Segerstrom agreed and set Rodriguez’ next appearance for 4 p.m. Thursday in Department 1 or Department 2.

“OK, perfect,” Rodriguez said.

Krieg brought up the fact that Rodriguez was at present held on no-bail status. She and Segerstrom agreed that because Rodriguez is not facing death penalty charges, he qualifies for bail. Krieg asked that bail for Rodriguez be set at $2.5 million, and Segerstrom agreed.

Rodriguez is accused of killing Aguiar, a Jamestown resident, the night of Sept. 16 in a parking lot off School Street on the Sonora High School campus. He was arrested Sept. 26 by special weapons and tactics officers in Centerville, Utah, north of Salt Lake City. 

Tuolumne County sheriff’s personnel provided information to the Centerville Police Department that led them to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was extradited earlier this week from a jail in Utah, transferred by employees of a private transport company that specializes in extraditions, and booked into Tuolumne County Jail Monday night.

Moments before Rodriguez came on the video screen Wednesday in Department 1, a group of nine people – five of them women and girls, four of them men and boys – came into the courtroom and sat where they could see the courtroom video screen. Later, they conferred outside with AssistantDistrict Attorney Eric Hovatter in Courthouse Square.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.net or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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