An arraignment for a Washington state man accused of murdering his half-sister and burning a vehicle with her body inside grew heated when a man yelled insults at the defendant before exiting the courtroom.
David Joseph Fagundes, 41, is charged with first-degree murder, arson resulting in great bodily injury, resisting arrest and criminal threats after he was reportedly found hiding near a burning Chevrolet HHR in Copperopolis on May 29. A charred body was found inside the vehicle after the fire was extinguished.
The deceased has been identified as Toni Jilbert Ferreira, 49, of Manteca. According to Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio, Ferreira was a half-sister of Fagundes.
A cause of death has not been released, and the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to requests for additional information regarding the case. The incident is being investigated as a homicide, according to authorities.
During his June 21 arraignment, Fagundes, who was brought into the courtroom in shackles and had a shaved head with tattoos on his arms and hands, turned in his seat and glared at the crowd of grieving friends and family in the audience.
After a brief discussion, the decision was made by presiding judge Timothy Healy to postpone the arraignment due to additional criminal complaints filed under Fagundes’ case by the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office.
As the defendant was being led out of the courtroom, a large, middle-aged man who had been sitting in the audience throughout the proceedings, cradling his head in his hands, sprang to his feet and shouted, “You’re an [expletive]! I hope you rot in Hell!” pointing at Fagundes. He then exited the building with another large man behind him.
Fagundes, clearly angered, spewed expletives in return.
The defendant was quickly removed from the courtroom as Judge Healy requested the name of the man who made a scene. A member of the audience identified the man as Ronald Ferreira.
Healy then ordered that Ferreira be barred from entering his courtroom again.
“I totally understand the frustration, sadness and anger. I get it,” Healy said. “I’m not offended by the language, but (what) I am concerned by is the potential for where that anger can take us.”
Healy cited the significant height and weight of both men who had left the courtroom as further cause for his concerns.
Following the arraignment, Ferreira’s supporters, one wearing a t-shirt displaying her photo, gathered outside the courtroom and exchanged tearful hugs.
Fagundes has prior convictions for felony burglary in Montana, felony battery in Idaho and first-degree manslaughter in Washington state. He remains in custody and will appear again in court for a continued arraignment on July 19.