BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A former Bakersfield College student activist has been ordered to stand trial in the 2021 shooting death of a man in Tulare County, according to court records.
A judge at a preliminary hearing Wednesday found there was enough evidence for the case against 26-year-old Jose Bello to proceed, records show. Bello, who is undocumented, is being held without bail and is due back in court March 2, when it’s expected a trial date will be scheduled. Co-defendants Dan Eli Perez and Jesus Manjarrez were also held to answer.
They’re accused of killing 58-year-old Douglas Cline from Washington, whose body was found in a Terra Bella orchard. Manjarrez and Perez identified Bello as the gunman, according to a document filed in Tulare County Superior Court.
Cline traveled to California to pick up drugs from someone known as “Chapo” — later identified as Manjarrez, according to a probable cause declaration. The document says Cline owed between $30,000 to $40,000 to Manjarrez.
Detectives used GPS data to trace Cline’s cellphone to Manjarrez’s home the afternoon of Oct. 14, 2021, then to Earlimart and finally to the home of Perez in Terra Bella, about two miles from the crime scene, according to the declaration. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots at the home.
The phone then traveled to Delano and the McFarland Tire Shop.
“Video surveillance from the tire shop shows Manjarrez along with two other people arrive in Manjarrez’s vehicle at the same time the victim’s phone arrived there according to his Google timeline, although the victim was never seen there (presumed dead at this point),” the declaration says.
In 2019, Bello was arrested 36 hours after he read a poem critical of Immigration and Customs Enforcement before the Kern County Board of Supervisors. His case gained national attention, some believing ICE targeted Bello because of the poem.
Bello is still facing multiple felony drug and gun charges in Kern County stemming from an arrest a month before the homicide. Court documents say a search of Bello’s vehicle revealed a loaded unregistered firearm, live ammunition, large amounts of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, cannabis-infused edibles, multiple scales and a methamphetamine smoking pipe.