Couple pleads not guilty to 2007 murder


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Francisco Javier Mendoza, 23, pleaded not guilty Friday to one count of murder with use of a gun and one count of attempted premeditated murder with use of a gun for the Dec. 25, 2007, shooting death of Valentino Gallegos, 37, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Margarita Bustos Ortega, 24, is charged with one count of felony accessory to murder for allegedly witnessing the shootings and later lying to police about Mendoza's involvement, Wagstaffe said.

Mendoza is believed to have gotten into a fight at Pal Market in the 2300 block of Cooley Avenue in East Palo Alto on Dec. 25, then left, returned with a handgun and shot two men, Wagstaffe said.

Gallegos was killed in the shooting and Gerardo Hernandez, then 20, was seriously injured, East Palo Alto police Lt. Jeff Liu said.

On Sept. 15, 2008, police identified Mendoza, a Redwood City resident, as the alleged shooter and arrested him the next day at the intersection of University and Woodland avenues in East Palo Alto, Liu said.

Mendoza remains in custody on no-bail status, and Ortega is also in custody in lieu of $100,000 bail, Wagstaffe said.

They are scheduled to return to court Aug. 19 to have a jury trial date set.

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