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Trial presents language barrier

An arraignment has been set for next week for a field worker accused of shooting a man in the face and running from law enforcement.

At the Madera County Superior Court, the suspect, Santiago Quiroz-Merino, 43, was ordered by Madera County Judge Mitchell C. Rigby to return on Monday for his arraignment while he tries to find an attorney.

During the Thursday video arraignment, Merino stated with the help of a Spanish interpreter that he could also pay off the $1 million bail. Rigby, however, reminded him of the high amount which had been set.

“I’ll pay the bail,” Merino said. “I’ll pay little by little.”

During the the proceedings, Merino seemed confused in giving his replies, and it was later determined that Mixteco Bajo, not Spanish, was Merino’s native language. Merino, an immigrant from Pinotepa Nacional, Mexico, was assured by Rigby that Mixteco Bajo will be available at Monday’s arraignment.

Merino was arrested on Tuesday after he reportedly shot another man in the face.

According to Madera County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Tyson Pogue, the incident began late Monday night when Merino and others began drinking at a house at 14477 Road 29 east of Madera. It was during this bout of drinking that a confrontation reportedly broke out.

“In the course of the argument, one of the suspects shot the victim in the facial area,” Pogue said. The victim, 25, was transported to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. The gunshot wound, which was in the area of the victim’s jaw, was reportedly serious, but he is expected to survive.

Deputies were dispatched to the residence shortly after midnight, and were told by witnesses that Merino had run back inside the house. It was then determined at this point that Madera County’s Regional SWAT Team should handle the situation.

After several hours, law enforcement officers received a warrant from Madera County Judge D. Lynn Jones to enter the house. Upon entrance, however, the SWAT officers found no sign of Merino. He was reportedly found hiding in some bushes northeast of the property, and surrendered at around 8 a.m.


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