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Arraignment for suspect in killing postponed

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Posted: Thursday, January 4, 2001 10:00 pm

The arraignment for the 43-year-old man charged with first-degree murder in connection with Tuesday’s fatal shooting northwest of Lodi was rescheduled Thursday due to an apparent language barrier.

Romulo Borce met briefly with Robin Fass, a deputy public defender, after appearing to not understand the charges being read to him by Superior Court Judge Robert F. Baysinger.

Fass told Baysinger that Borce, who is Filipino, could not enter a plea Thursday because he needed an interpreter.

Baysinger rescheduled the arraignment for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Department 25 at San Joaquin County Superior Court in Stockton.

Borce, charged with the murder of his neighbor, Ernesto Surnip Jr., is being held in county jail without bail on two charges — first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, court records show.

Borce faces up to 50 years to life in prison if he is convicted of murder, which is enhanced by a 1984 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon in Kern County.

He could receive six additional years in prison if he is convicted of the second charge.

Deputy District Attorney Chuck Schultz said the evidence does not warrant the special circumstances that would lead to the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of parole.

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