A teenager who is accused of first-degree murder, attempted murder, first-degree residential burglary and arson of an inhabited structure in the August 2019 death of Dionecia Valencia spent Wednesday morning in Tuolumne County Superior Court for a hearing to determine if the boy will be charged as an adult.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter asked questions about the 17-year-old’s familiarity with Insane Clown Posse music and related Hatchet Man symbolism, as well as the use of an axe and a Bowie knife with wolves on the blade in the killing of Valencia.
The teen entered the courtroom in waist chains and handcuffs with three county probation personnel.
He and a co-defendant have been locked up in juvenile facilities since they were arrested the day after an Aug. 12 trailer fire and the killing of Valencia at a rural property up on Calle Quartz Road in the Big Hill area outside Columbia.
Both defendants were 16 when the crimes they are accused of occurred.
Witnesses questioned at the hearing included a Tuolumne County sheriff’s deputy and a supervising probation officer. Several members of the defendant’s family and Valencia’s family were in attendance.
The hearing is expected to continue Thursday morning in a public courtroom on North Washington Street. The Union Democrat newspaper is not naming the teen unless the local court rules he will be tried as an adult.
An arraignment was scheduled to be held Wednesday afternoon in a different courtroom with a different judge for the co-defendant in the case, Gage Stokes, who is being charged as an adult following a similar two-day hearing in mid-June.
See Thursday’s print edition of The Union Democrat for more on this story.
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.