Jury questionnaires go out in South Dos Palos gang homicide trial

Jury selection gets underway today in the trial of a Dos Palos teenager charged with killing another teen last year in a case investigators believe was gang related.

Ryan O. Suarez, 16, has pleaded not guilty in connection with the June 23, 2013, shooting death of 15-year-old John Carlos Cordero-Juarez at a park on Reynolds Avenue in South Dos Palos.

Suarez has been charged as an adult because of the serious nature of the case, the Merced County District Attorney’s Office has said.

About 90 potential jurors will fill out questionnaires today. Formal jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday before Judge Ronald W. Hansen in Merced Superior Court, according to Mathew Martinez, the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Tenenbaum said his client is looking forward to his day in court.

Prosecutors are seeking a use of a firearm enhancement in an effort to get a longer sentence if Suarez is convicted, according to court records. He is facing a maximum sentence of 25 years to life if convicted, court records show.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department said the shooting occurred in a park after some type of altercation, possibly between rival gang members.