Calif. man pleads not guilty in soldier shooting

AP News
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Posted: Dec 29, 2011 12:55 PM
Calif. man pleads not guilty in soldier shooting

A California man pleaded not guilty Thursday to attempted murder in the homecoming party shooting of an Afghanistan war veteran.

The arraignment for Ruben Ray Jurado, 19, in San Bernardino County Superior Court lasted about two minutes. He was remanded to custody at the West Valley Detention Center and ordered to return to court on Jan. 9 for a disposition hearing. Bail continues at $1 million.

In addition to attempted murder, Jurado faces four sentencing enhancements.

Army Spc. Christopher Sullivan has been in critical condition since being shot Friday night. His family said his spine was shattered and he's paralyzed.

The 22-year-old Purple Heart recipient had been recovering from injuries suffered in a December 2010 suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan. Sullivan is a member of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, an Army post that straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

Jurado, of San Bernardino, spoke only once during the hearing, saying "Yes, your Honor," when asked if he agreed to waive his right to a speedy trial.

Defense attorney Michael J. Holmes and members of Jurado's family left the courthouse without talking to reporters.

Jurado had been scheduled for arraignment by video conference Wednesday, but that was postponed when Jurado requested to attend the hearing in person.

Holmes told the Riverside Press-Enterprise earlier that his client and Sullivan had been friends for years and Jurado had been invited to the Friday night gathering at a San Bernardino home. Sullivan's mother said Jurado was not invited to the party.

Jurado claimed some party guests were inhaling nitrous oxide from balloons and drinking heavily, and that he was attacked and kicked as he tried to leave, Holmes told the newspaper.

Authorities painted a different picture, saying Jurado, who had played football with Sullivan in high school, began arguing with Sullivan's brother over football teams at the party and then punched him. Sullivan intervened, and Jurado pulled a gun and fired multiple shots, hitting Sullivan in the neck, police said.

Sullivan was wounded in a suicide bombing attack last year while serving with the military in Afghanistan. He suffered a cracked collarbone and brain damage and had been recovering in Kentucky, where he is stationed, before coming home for the holidays.

San Bernardino is 60 miles east of Los Angeles.