Ex-UFC fighter Cain Velasquez pleads not guilty to shooting charges

SAN JOSE — Former UFC fighter Cain Velasquez has formally pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, assault and weapons charges alleging that in February he chased then shot at a man accused of molesting his young son, and ended up wounding the man’s stepfather.

Velasquez entered the plea Friday in a San Jose courtroom accompanied by his attorneys Alexandra Kazarian and Renee Hessling, with several family members and supporters sitting in the court gallery.

A preliminary examination — the hearing in which a judge decides whether there is enough evidence for a case to proceed to trial — has been set for Sept. 26.

Velasquez, clad in brown jail clothing and wearing a surgical mask over his face, was visibly attentive during the hearing and stood up when telling Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Jessica Delgado, “Yes I do” when she asked him to verify his plea and that he understood he was waiving his right to have the preliminary examination within 10 days.

He briefly gestured to his supporters before he was escorted back to the Main Jail in San Jose, where is he is being held without bail. His lead attorney Mark Geragos, who was not in court Friday, has petitioned the Sixth District Court of Appeal challenging the county Superior Court’s denial of bail to Velasquez.

Both the prosecution and court have cited public-safety concerns in opposing his release from jail. Geragos has repeatedly argued that high bail, electronic monitoring, and protective orders for the charged victims of the Feb. 28 shooting would be sufficient for securing safety and Velasquez’s court appearances.

He also proposed Velasquez go to an out-of-state rehabilitation facility, after characterizing the 40-year-old’s actions as a response to a family trauma worsened by a traumatic brain injury suffered from his mixed-martial arts career, during which he fought out of San Jose and won two UFC heavyweight title belts.

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Judge Shelyna Brown rebuffed the jail alternatives Geragos offered, decisions that he called “unconstitutional” in his appeal, which as of Friday had not yielded a response from the appellate court.

According to police and prosecutors, on Feb. 28 Velasquez followed Paul Bender and Patricia Goularte as they drove from their home in San Martin to Morgan Hill, where they were going to pick up their son Harry Goularte Jr. and take him to San Jose to get outfitted for an ankle monitor.

Goularte Jr., 43, was charged in February with one felony count of a lewd and lascivious act with a child who has since been widely identified as Velasquez’s 4-year-old son. The child told his parents about being molested by Goularte Jr. at a home-based San Martin daycare run by his mother. Goularte Jr. was arraigned Feb. 25, and a judge granted him supervised release.

On Feb. 28, as Bender and Goularte met up with Goularte Jr. in Morgan Hill, Velasquez is alleged to have driven up to their vehicle and fired a handgun at him, then followed them as they drove …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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