A Lodi man accused of murdering his roommate during an argument in May will appear in San Joaquin County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing today. Following the hearing, a judge will determine if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
On May 14, Lodi police found 33-year-old Arlie Druen of Lodi suffering from a gunshot wound in his home on the 700 block of South Central Avenue. Druen was transferred to Lodi Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Richard Welker, 33 and Druen’s roommate, co-worker and friend, was soon arrested and booked into San Joaquin County Jail, where he is currently being held.
Druen’s death is Lodi’s only suspected homicide so far this year.
During initial investigations, police tried to determine whether the shooting was accidental or premeditated. Welker is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, intentional and personal discharge of a firearm and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
During a phone interview with the Lodi News-Sentinel in September, Welker’s attorney, Victoria Bossi, argued that the gun was old and accidentally discharged, killing Druen.
“There’s been some evidence to support the defense’s position,” she said in September. “(Welker) had no intention to kill someone who’s been a very close friend to him.”
Bossi declined to comment on the case when reached by phone on Monday.
The California Department of Justice has analyzed the gun that police suspect Welker used to kill Druen, in order to determine if it indeed misfired.
San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Conley argues that Welker deliberately shot Druen, and believes that the evidence will support his claim.
“Using the word ‘accidental’ isn’t accurate,” he said. “It’s not like the gun fell off the shelf. I believe the evidence is going to show that the gun (was) fired intentionally.”
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at email@example.com.