Dos Palos teen’s murder trial set

A Dos Palos teenager faces a potential life prison sentence if convicted next month of the suspected gang-related slaying of another teenager in 2013.

Ryan O. Suarez, 17, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and street gang participation in connection with the June 23, 2013, death of 15-year-old John Carlos Cordero-Juarez at a park on Reynolds Avenue in South Dos Palos.

Suarez, who was 16 at the time of Cordero-Juarez’s death, has been charged as an adult.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.

Suarez appeared in court briefly Monday to confirm the July 8 jury trial before Judge Ronald W. Hansen. Jury selection questionnaires will be mailed July 2, according to Mathew Martinez, the Merced County Deputy District Attorney prosecuting the case.

The defendant was ordered to stand trial in January after a preliminary hearing.

Merced County sheriff’s investigators said the teenager’s death stemmed from a fight between gang rivals in a Dos Palos park.

Suarez remains in custody in Merced County.