As family members of a Lodi High School graduate Diego Chavira made plans Wednesday for his funeral, a Stockton man was charged with murder and other felonies that could send him to prison for life.
Gabriel Olivarez, 28, did not enter a plea during the court appearance, because a judge has to appoint an outside attorney to represent him. He will return to court Friday.
Olivarez is charged with murder in the slaying of Chavira, 19, who was shot during an altercation in Stockton near Lincoln Center early Monday morning.
Chavira's brother, Efren Chavira, 28, was also shot and subsequently hospitalized in critical condition. Family friends said Wednesday that he has undergone several surgeries and is no longer in intensive care.
Olivarez is charged with attempted murder in Efren Chavira's shooting, as well as felony charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed firearm and carrying a loaded firearm.
Because he has a previous strike conviction - for an arson conviction in a 2005 domestic violence case - the sentence on new cases could be doubled. Firearm enhancements would further add to a sentence, meaning that Olivarez could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
He wore red San Joaquin County Jail clothing during his Wednesday court appearance, meaning that he is held in protective custody. He raised his eyebrows and heaved a sigh as he read for the first time the charges against him.
Olivarez, who has some 10 previous convictions, clearly knows the court system well, as he used legal terms when he addressed the judge.
"Can I get an information and discovery packet?" he asked, referring to the evidence against him.
Judge Franklin Stephenson explained that an attorney would be appointed to help handle the case, and Olivarez thanked him.
"I just want to make sure you guys get that on paper," he added, as the court reporter recorded every word.
Later, as bailiffs escorted him out of the courtroom, he said, "Love you mom, love you bro," to two family members seated in the room. They declined to comment outside court.
Olivarez had asked for a public defender, but after attorneys conferred with the judge, Stephenson said an outside attorney will have to handle the case.
The Public Defender's Office has previously represented Efren Chavira, so they cannot also represent the suspect.
Another brother, Nelson Chavira, 31, appeared with a public defender in Lodi court Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of making criminal threats relating to an April 2008 arrest. He also admitted to violating his probation in a 2007 conviction for domestic violence, against the same woman listed in court records as the victim in the threats case.
Court records showed no criminal charges against Diego Chavira, who countless friends have described as a happy-go-lucky youth who loved playing baseball.
He was the youngest of four boys and was in second grade when his father died in 1997, family friends Robert and Amy Fowler said after court.
At one point Diego Chavira stayed with the Fowlers, who became almost like second parents to him. When he'd get out of line, they would discipline him just like their own children.
"This kid did not deserve it," Robert Fowler said of the death. "He's never been in a fight before."
The Fowlers, along with friend Kellie Alegre, said they attended the arraignment as their way of showing they cared. They have been in regular contact with the Chaviras' mother, who is alternating between visiting one son in the hospital and trying to make plans on how to bury another.