Suspects plead not guilty in toddler shooting

July 31, 2009 5:57:59 PM PDT
Twenty-three year old Antonio McNeal sobbed through his first court appearance in a Solano County courtroom, charged with seven counts of attempted murder. McNeal and co-defendant, 19-year-old Clifford Crawford could get life in prison for the June 5 shooting that left 3-year-old Yesenia Vasquez with a bullet in her spine.

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A suspect broke into sobs today during a court appearance on charges of shooting a young Vallejo girl while she slept. He's one of two men accused in the crime that has left the young victim in agonizing pain.

Antonio McNeal sobbed through his first appearance in a Fairfield courtroom, charged with seven counts of attempted murder.

The 23-year-old and co-defendant, 19-year-old Clifford Crawford could get life in prison for the June 5th shooting that left 3-year-old Yesenia Vasquez with a bullet in her spine.

Yesenia was shot as she slept in her Vallejo home. Her pregnant mother, father and three sisters were not hurt.

Yesenia's mother Alejandra Vasquez spoke to ABC7 by telephone.

"I am very happy that they arrested them and for them to pay. Hopefully they will be there for many years," said Vasquez through a translator.

Police believe McNeal and Crawford mistakenly fired multiple rounds at the Vasquez house, as retaliation for a prior incident, unrelated to the family.

"It's tremendous relief. When this incident first broke many of our officers were distraught, especially being that it was a 3-year-old baby girl was completely innocent and uninvolved in this," said Lt. Kenny Park from Vallejo Police.

The Vasquez family moved from the house after the shooting.

On Friday, the home's owner showed ABC7 how he repaired the bullet holes for new renters.

"At first they thought she would never walk, but she is walking, of course, with a limp," said Irene Tauriac from Safequest Solano.

The organization Safequest Solano is raising money to help Yesenia's family find a new place to live.

"Right now, the most important thing is a home because they're living with a relative right now and it's very crowded," said Tauriac.

McNeal and Crawford both pleaded not guilty. They will be back in court august 14th for a preliminary hearing. Bail has been set at $1.3 million each.

Trust fund information:

SafeQuest Solano has established a trust fund for Yesenia in Fairfield.

Make check out to "Trust Fund for Yesenia Vasquez" UMPQUA BANK
1411 Oliver Road
Suite 100
Fairfield, CA 94534 707-432-4220

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