Accused child killer Devin Ratliff will stand trial for the shooting death of 20-month-old Rashad Halford Jr., Fresno County Superior Court Judge David Gottlieb ruled Friday.
Ratliff, 39, is charged with the toddler’s 2016 murder, and the attempted murder of the boy’s father, Rashad Halford and another man Willis Mucelroy.
Ratliff faces 114 years to life in prison, if convicted on all charges. His next hearing is set for Aug. 29 in Dept. 10.
On June 21, 2016, Ratliff allegedly walked up to a group of people who were hanging out outside an apartment in the 3000 block of E. Platt Ave. and started shooting. Witnesses said he fired about 10 rounds before fleeing on foot.
Halford Sr., who had a 9 mm hand gun, returned fire, trying and protect himself and his child, said Fresno police Sgt. Adrian Alvarez.
Alvarez was the final witness to testify during Ratliff’s preliminary hearing Friday. He was one of the first investigators to interview Halford Sr. and Mucelroy.
Initially, neither man told police that Halford Sr. shot back at Ratlifff, Alvarez said. But in a follow up interview, Halford Sr. admitted he had a gun that night and returned fire at Ratliff. Alvarez couldn’t recall how many times Halford fired his handgun.
Mucelory testifed Thursday that Halford Sr. gave him the gun and told him to hide it before police arrived. The gun was later found by police in a nearby apartment.
The child’s family members said they are relieved the case is finally going to trial. It took Fresno detectives two years after the shooting to find Ratliff and arrest him. He was hiding in Southern California.
Kevin Blackmon, Halford Sr.’s uncle, wore a T-shirt with a picture of baby Rashad. He sat in court Friday, directly behind Ratliff, watching the hearing.
Blackmon said the family had buried a relative three days before baby Rashad was killed. That night Blackmon was at a fish fry at his mother’s house playing with Rashad Jr.
“I left and went home about 10:30 p.m. and then I have to find out that baby Rashad was dead,” Blackmon said.