Two men accused of violent crimes return to court

Court gavel
Signal File Photo.

Two men accused of having committed violent crimes in the Santa Clarita Valley returned to court on Wednesday, receiving future court dates to appear before a judge once again.  

Michael Branch  

Michael Branch, 39, was arrested on July 2 after he was believed to have been in a vehicle traveling through the Newhall Pass when his girlfriend’s daughter fell out of the car’s back window.  

In connection to the incident, Branch was charged with a single count of misdemeanor child abuse.  

He is next scheduled to appear on Oct. 17 for a pretrial hearing. During a pretrial hearing, a judge determines if there is enough evidence in a case for it to be taken to trial.  

At the time of the incident, investigators reported that the 7-year-old girl was killed after being struck by multiple vehicles on Interstate 5. Branch and the girl’s mother, Veronda Gladney, 28, are believed to have not noticed for some time that the little girl was missing.  

One of the theories from law enforcement stated shortly after the two were arrested was that the girl had fallen out of the rear window after not being secured by a seat belt, car seat or booster, the latter of which is required by state law for any child under the age of 8.  

She is believed, with both adults sitting up front, to have climbed into the back seat of their 1999 Lincoln Navigator and at approximately 3:40 a.m. on July 2. Investigators believe the child pushed or fell into the vehicle’s back window, which was broken and/or unlocked, causing her to fall out of the moving vehicle.  

The couple returned to the scene sometime later and were arrested in connection to the girl’s death.  

Gladney, as the driver of the vehicle and the girl’s biological parent, was charged with two counts of child abuse and one count of manslaughter. She is scheduled to appear in court next on Oct. 19 for a preliminary hearing.  

David Figueroa  

A Pacoima man accused of killing his friend he met while both were in rehab together returned to court on Wednesday. 

David Alonso Figueroa, 40, appeared in San Fernando Superior Court and was told to return on Oct. 17 for a pretrial hearing.   

On July 30, 2018, detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Homicide Bureau began investigating the stabbing death of 29-year-old Brent Hariston, of Canyon Country. 

Hariston and Figueroa, according to the late Homicide Detective John Corina, met in rehab.  

The two men, according to Corina, were scheduled to meet up that morning and head to work together. An argument then is believed to have broken out between the two, and that’s when detectives believe Figueroa pulled out a knife and stabbed Hariston multiple times.  

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