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, 2020.

A Tuolumne man accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Jamestown resident Eric Aguiar in a parking lot by Sonora High School on Sept. 16 pleaded not guilty on Friday to murder charges and other felonies in Tuolumne County Superior Court.

Joshua Amondo Rodriguez, 20, is charged with one count of murder in the death of Aguiar, three counts of attempted murder related to three seperate individuals, and one count of threatening a witness. All five charges carry firearm enhancements.

Martin Baker, a Modesto-based attorney who’s representing Rodriguez, said his client would plead not guilty to all the charges and deny all the special allegations against him. 

It was Rodriguez’s first pleading since he first appeared in Tuolumne County Superior Court in October after he was extradited from Centerville, Utah, where he was arrested on Sept. 26. He remains in custody at the Tuolumne County Jail, with a bail amount of $2.5 million. 

Prosecutors previously calculated Rodriguez could face a maximum sentence of 144 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges.

Rodriguez was seated Friday morning in the jury box of the ground-floor courtroom in the historic Tuolumne County Superior Courthouse on Yaney Avenue, dressed in a red jail-issued  jumpsuit, a blue surgical mask and shackled at the wrists and ankles.

Baker also asked Judge Kevin Seibert if a demurrer motion he filed to strike language from the criminal complaint could be ruled on by Presiding Judge Donald Segerstrom, who postponed ruling on the matter at a hearing last week.

Seibert said he would review the document to make a ruling and, after leaving the courtroom briefly to read it, he agreed to delete the words "willful, deliberate and premeditated" that preceded the attempted murder charges.

Rodriguez is scheduled to appear in court again for a preliminary hearing at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 9.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at gricapito@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 588-4526.

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