Orick homicide suspect pleads not guilty to murder, child cruelty charges

EUREKA – We have new information on last week’s homicide on Orick. In addition to murder, Ronald Loureiro is also accused of child cruelty.

Loureiro was arrested Thursday January 4 in Orick after witnesses say he stabbed 34-year-old Vernon James Weatherford on Highway 101 near Dryden’s Road.

Loureiro is accused of murder with a special allegation that he used a deadly weapon to commit the crime.

The District Attorney is also charging the 29-year-old with three counts of cruelty to a child. The victims are listed as John Does with ages ranging from two to eight years old. Details about what spurred those charges have not been made public.

Monday at the Humboldt County Courthouse Visiting Judge Leonard LaCasse asked the defendant if he understood the charges he faced. Loureiro looked confused and said he didn’t understand how he was charged with cruelty to children.

The judge then appointed an attorney from the office of conflict counsel who entered a not guilty plea and denied all special allegations on his client’s behalf.

Loureiro was previously convicted of two felony assaults, one in 2007 and another in 2015.
Loureiro is being held on $1.6 million dollars bail and will appear in court again Thursday with a preliminary hearing set for next week.