Jury selection begins in 2012 Merced homicide case

Jury selection began Tuesday for a Merced County man charged with homicide and robbery in connection with separate incidents on a night in 2012.

Michael L. Wilkins, 21, has pleaded not guilty to murder, robbery, assaulting a police officer and other charges, according to Merced County Superior Court records.

Judge Ronald W. Hansen is presiding over the case.

Wilkins is charged with killing 47-year-old Raymond Garza on Aug. 8, 2012, at an apartment complex on Park Avenue in Merced.

Garza was shot and pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Residents reported hearing some type of commotion in the area followed by multiple gunshots and seeing a man running away, police said.

About 10 minutes after the shooting, a 21-year-old man was robbed at gunpoint not far from the homicide scene in the area of Park Avenue and Park Place, authorities have said.

The Merced County District Attorney’s Office believes Wilkins committed both crimes.

Wilkins was arrested a short time later in the 2600 block of H Street. Sheriff’s investigators said they found a firearm in Bear Creek they believe may have been used by Wilkins.

Garza’s family has said they believe he was randomly targeted.

Thomas Min is the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case.

Tony Green is the deputy public defender handling the defense case, according to court records.

Wilkins remains in custody without bail at the Merced County Jail.