One of the two men charged with murder in the death of Monica Rodas appeared in court Thursday morning but did not enter a plea.
Hector Garcia, 31, will appear back in court August 10 to confirm who will represent him, and is scheduled to appear again with codefendant Salvador Valasco, 23, on August 15 to enter a plea. Valasco appeared in court last week and also did not enter a plea.
Attorney Charles Bourdon, who represented Garcia on Thursday, declined to comment after the hearing at Wiley W. Manual Courthouse in Oakland.
Garcia and Valasco are being charged by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office with special circumstances murder, kidnapping and desecrating human remains. On July 14, the body of Rodas, age 21, was found burning on the 5800 block of Ivanhoe in North Oakland.
Garcia and Valasco were both arrested last week after leading police on separate chases near the Maxwell Park area and the Mills College campus. Both men are associated with a criminal street gang and have criminal histories, mostly for drug violations, according to Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Holly Joshi.
Garcia was seated behind a partition and out of view of the gallery during his court appearance Thursday. Family and friends of Rodas attended the hearing, including her mother, Maria Alfaro. Through a translator, Alfaro described Rodas, a Union City resident and the mother of a 2-year-old boy, as “a very happy young lady.”
“She loved to listen to music and play sports like volleyball in school,” Alfaro said.
Alfaro said she attended Thursday’s hearing because “it’s important to show support and make sure [prosecutors] take care of the case,” she said.
Last night, Alfaro also spoke about Rodas at a dinner at the Eastlake YMCA hosted by Homies Empowerment Program, a part of the Urban Services YMCA that works with primarily Latino youth whose lives are impacted by gang activity. The program is helping raise money for Rodas’ funeral, friends of Rodas said.
Joanne Williamson, one of Rodas’ best friends who also attended Thursday’s hearing, said those close to Rodas don’t know what happened the night she was murdered.
“That’s the most painful part,” she said. “We don’t really know what happened.”