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One of two suspects in rural Manteca murder appears in court this Friday

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POSTED June 27, 2013 1:14 a.m.

STOCKTON – The man being charged with the weekend murder of a Manteca man was supposed to have the list of formal charges read to him on Wednesday afternoon.

But Michael Lee Roessler, 23, never appeared before San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Franklin Stephenson as scheduled – leaving family members that had gathered outside of the third story courtroom guessing as to why.

One woman, who declined to be identified or answer any specific questions, said that there is more to the issue than most people realize. She waited outside of Department 36 – the unscheduled chamber where Roessler was set to appear – with three other women that huddled and talked quietly among themselves.

The general consensus, however, remains the same. According to police and to eyewitnesses, Roessler was with a friend at The Islander Tavern – a small, locals-dominated bar at the end of Woodward Avenue near where it intersects with Williamson Road – when 51-year-old Michael David Lawrence rode up on his dirt bike to pick up a 12-pack.

Witnesses claim that Roessler and the other biker, both of which were riding Harleys, started making comments about Lawrence’s motorcycle and the people that lived in the small and quiet residential area. The confrontation spilled over into the neighborhood when the two bikers followed the local man back to his home, but not before they tore through the neighborhood, revving their motorcycles through the narrow streets.

Everything came to a head when the duo allegedly started spinning donuts in front of Lawrence’s home. When he came out through the green, wrought iron gate the two jumped off and attacked him. The taller of the two – not identified by eyewitnesses as Roessler – shot him twice in the chest and once in the head during the struggle.

Williamson’s wife, tried to grab the shirt of the man who had the gun in an attempt to pull him down, but he reportedly knocked her to the ground with his helmet.

Officers apprehended Roessler after he crashed his motorcycle along Woodward Avenue while attempting to flee the scene. He spent two days in the hospital, and was arrested Monday evening and booked into custody at the San Joaquin County Jail on charges that include murder and conspiracy.

He remains on a no-bond hold. An additional felony charge of carrying a loaded firearm is also being lodged.

San Joaquin County Sherriff’s deputies have been relatively mum about the ongoing investigation. They declined to state whether Roessler was involved with an outlaw motorcycle gang or even if they are pursuing any leads into the identity of a second man involved.

And it isn’t the first time in recent years that a homicide case has involved motorcyclists.

In 2011 a pair of Hells Angels were arrested for the murder of 26-year-old Lathrop resident Daniel Martinez in an unincorporated area east of Manteca. It was detectives from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s department that worked closely with the District Attorney’s office to secure the murder warrants against the outlaw bikers.

Roessler’s case had been rebooked by Wednesday afternoon – the same charges as before were either filed again or refined according to the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department website.

He is scheduled to next appear in court on Friday, June 28 at 1:30 p.m. at the San Joaquin County Superior Courthouse in Stockton.

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