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020318 west polk st shooting

Santa Maria Police investigate a shooting Saturday afternoon in the 600 block of West Polk Street.

The Santa Maria man who reportedly shot his brother over the weekend pleaded not guilty Tuesday during an emotional arraignment hearing in which his mother begged the judge to set her son free. 

Fernando Navarro, 19, has been charged by the District Attorney's Office with involuntary manslaughter with the special allegation use of a firearm; negligent discharge of a firearm with a special allegation of causing great bodily injury to the victim; and illegal possession of a firearm from a prior misdemeanor probation case from 2017. 

A preliminary hearing date has been set for Feb. 22 at the Santa Maria Superior Court. 

During Tuesday's brief arraignment, Reyna Navarro, the mother of the two, spoke out in court through a Spanish language interpreter, begging the judge to let her son free. 

"I'm going through a very difficult time," Reyna said, crying. "I want Fernando to know that I love him with all my heart, that he's not alone and that his family is with him.

"I'd like for you to let him free or reduce his sentence," she added.

In response, Fernando buried his hands into his face, bent down and sobbed. 

Judge Patricia Kelly set $130,000 bail for Fernando on his new felony case. Bail was also set at $10,000 for his misdemeanor probation violation case. Fernando's misdemeanor probation violation matter remains in further arraignment status.  

Shortly after noon Saturday, Santa Maria Police responded to a report of a shooting at a residence in the 600 block of West Polk Street. Upon arrival, Fernando's younger brother, 13-year-old Leonardo Navarro, was found and treated for his injuries, then flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. 

Leonardo died Saturday night after suffering critical injuries stemming from the alleged incident, according to the Santa Maria Police. Police previously confirmed they believe the shooting may have been accidental. Officials at the scene also confirmed that they had served a search warrant at the home during the incident that was unrelated to the shooting. 

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After further questioning of all occupants in the home, Fernando was arrested and booked into custody. 

According to court records, on Jan. 9, 2017, Fernando was charged with misdemeanor counts of brandishing a firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia. His case reached a plea agreement about a week later, and he was sentenced to three years probation on Jan. 18, 2017. 

An arrest warrant then was issued in September 2017 for Fernando, for allegedly evading and resisting a peace officer during a probation warrant search on July 24, 2017.

Fernando will return to Department 6 at the Santa Maria Superior Court on Feb. 15 to confirm his preliminary hearing date. 

Deputy District Attorney Mai Trieu is prosecuting the case, with attorney Adrienne Harbottle representing the defendant.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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Courts/Public Safety Reporter