Man suspected of killing prominent grape grower enters ‘not guilty’ plea in court

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A Delano man arrested on a first-degree murder charge three days after a prominent local grape-grower was shot and killed, entered a not guilty plea in court Tuesday afternoon. 

Mariano Fernandez Perez, 25, is accused of first-degree murder, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and driving with a possible open container of alcohol. 

Perez was booked into county jail just before 4 a.m. Saturday, according to the county inmate database. He is being held without bail.

Perez was arrested after last Wednesday’s killing of Jakov Dulcich, 84, who was gunned down in his car on Browning Road by another driver. At least six shots were fired into Dulcich’s vehicle, causing him to collide with another car near Woollomes Avenue, according to investigators. 

Dulcich was the founder Pretty Lady Vineyards and Dulcich & Sons, Inc.  

[MORE: A shocking homicide in Delano]

Perez has a history of criminal infractions, pleading no contest to drinking alcohol while under the age of 21 and driving without a license in September 2012, and guilty to a disorderly conduct charge of prowling the following November. He was back in court in June 2013, pleading guilty to domestic abuse, according to the Kern County Superior Court’s criminal case database.

The sheriff’s department says they are looking for another person in connection to the case, but have not provided more details.

If you have information, you can call 661-861-3110 or you can remain anonymous by calling 661-322-4040.

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