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Ex-convict pleads not guilty in murder of Santa Rosa man

A Santa Rosa ex-convict pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the two-month-old slaying of another man during an early morning confrontation in the southwest part of the city.

Latroy Denard Clinton, 39, is charged with murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm and evading police in the June 25 shooting death of Oscar Valencia, 23.

A preliminary hearing for Clinton, who served time in prison for two previous violent felony convictions, was set for Sept. 20.

Walter Rubenstein, Clinton's lawyer, said the large volume of written material in the case accounted for the delay. Rubenstein asked for additional time to await gunshot residue and ballistics testing but Judge Robert LaForge ordered the case to move forward.

Valencia's family members looked on as Clinton stood in a blue jail uniform and responded, "Yes" when asked if his plea was not guilty to all three counts.

Outside court, Rubenstein said Clinton was trying to "get his life together" when the shooting occurred. He said Clinton is a family man "who had just moved to Santa Rosa from elsewhere in the Bay Area.

Valencia's family left the courtroom without commenting.

Police accuse Clinton of shooting Valencia in the face during an altercation outside a house on Cumberland Street and Homestead Lane at about 2 a.m.

Valencia, his brother and two friends had just dropped off some women after a night of clubbing and were waiting for some of them to return when a van pulled up, shining its lights at them, the brother said.

Valencia got out of the car and exchanged words with the driver, who went into a nearby house and emerged with a gun.


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