Suspect in shooting of 10-month-old baby pleads not guilty
Marcos Antonio Echartea, the 23-year-old accused of firing a gun into a car and seriously injuring a 10-month old baby girl, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to 16 felony charges in two separate shootings.
Wearing a standard red jailhouse jumpsuit, Echartea appeared calm during the brief hearing, occasionally making eye contact with two male supporters in the courtroom.
The victim’s family did not appear to be in attendance during the hearing.
Judge Francine Zepeda set Echartea’s bail at $6.2 million.
Echartea made national news over the weekend for a shooting that left baby Fayth Percy in critical condition at Community Regional Medical Center.
As of Wednesday, the child’s condition remained unchanged.
Police said Echartea got angry at the baby’s mother, 18-year-old Deziree Menagh, for rejecting him at a party on Sunday.
Menagh was at the party in the 3600 block of East Hammond Avenue with her daughter when Echartea approached her.
The two had met each other about a week ago, but were not dating, police said. Echartea tried to grab Menagh’s hand and she pulled away.
At about 4 a.m., Menagh and her baby left the party in a car driven by a friend. They were parked about a block away when Echartea saw them and hurriedly walked toward the car.
As he got closer he fired three shots from a handgun into the car, striking the baby in the side of the head as she was being held by her mother in the passenger seat, police said.
Sunday’s shooting is not the first time Echartea has been accused of extreme violence.
In May, he and co-defendant Jaime Barajas were charged with five counts of shooting into a home occupied by the boyfriend of Echartea’s ex-girlfriend. One of the bullets in that shooting nearly struck another 1-year-old, police said.
Barajas and Echartea were also arraigned on those charges Wednesday. Both pleaded not guilty. Barajas’ bail is $345,000. He also remains in Fresno County jail.
Echartea’s criminal history dates back several years. He was charged with misdemeanor battery and vandalism in 2015.
The charges were later dismissed. In 2017, he was cited for driving without a license. Two months later he received probation after pleading no contest to one count of DUI with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08. His blood alcohol level was 0.20, according to court records.
In January, he was charged with two felonies, assault by means likely to produce great bodily harm and false imprisonment with violence. He was also charged with exhibiting a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor.
He pleaded no contest to false imprisonment with violence, the other two charges were dropped. He is expected to be sentenced on that charge on July 7.
Echartea and Barajas are due back in court on July 2 for a per-preliminary hearing in Department 95.