A Santa Rosa man suspected of shooting to death another man in a late-night confrontation appeared in court Tuesday where he was arraigned on murder and two other felony charges.
Latroy Denard Clinton Sr., 39, is accused in Saturday's slaying of Oscar Valencia, 23, of Santa Rosa outside a house near Cumberland Street and Homestead Lane.
Police said the two exchanged words in what appeared to be a random encounter and Clinton shot Valencia in the head with a large-caliber handgun.
Valencia's cousin, Jessica Torres, 22, said his parents were devastated and "just trying to stay strong," she said.
Valencia was "at the wrong place at the wrong time," she said.
His cousin described the man as a "goofy" music lover who worked for a local winery. At family gatherings, he'd be the one to step up when cumbia music moved her to get up and dance.
"I'd always ask my uncles dance with me dance with me, everybody would tell me no. And when I'd get to Oscar he'd say, &‘Alright.' He never told me no," she said.
Friday night, Valencia had been out dancing at clubs with his brother and two of their friends, according to police.
They had dropped off a group of female friends at a home near Cumberland Street and Homestead Lane and were waiting outside sometime before 2 a.m. Saturday, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Steve Fraga said.
Around that time, Clinton arrived home to an adjacent house, Fraga said. Neighbors reported hearing an argument and a shot fired.
"His brother and my cousin Oscar didn't even know the guy. They had never seen him before," Torres said.
Clinton was arrested the same day in Marin County after a chase with police along Highway 101.
In addition to murder, he's charged with being a felon in possession of a gun and evading police.
Judge Rene Chouteau on Tuesday appointed his attorney from the Public Defender's Office. Clinton will next appear in court July 14 for entry of his plea.
Valencia grew up in Santa Rosa and attend Midrose High School, his cousin said.
A rosary vigil service was planned for 5 p.m. Thursday at Daniels Chapel of the Roses in Santa Rosa for Valencia.
He's survived by his parents Maria and Eligio Valencia, siblings Zoila Richardson of Novato and Angelica, Esmeralda, and Jaime Valencia of Santa Rosa and grandparents Magdalena Torres and Antonia and Fidel Valencia.