MOUNT CARMEL — Preliminary hearings were continued Wednesday for two men questioned in the shooting of a Milton woman.
Rafael Diroche and Esteven Soto are jailed on gun and drug charges following their arrests Feb. 8 hours after doctors discovered Salicia Yost had been shot in the head.
A passer-by found Yost, 20, alone inside a vehicle registered out of state that appeared to have crashed into a snow pile along Irish Valley Road, three miles north of Shamokin. After the bullet wound was confirmed with police, an attempted homicide investigation was launched.
The charges against Diroche and Soto stem from that investigation. While both were questioned, neither man nor anyone else has been charged with shooting Yost.
Yost remained in critical condition Wednesday at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.
Diroche and Soto are set to appear for rescheduled preliminary hearings March 5 before Magisterial District Judge Hugh A. Jones. The latest continuance was reportedly sought due to the ongoing attempted homicide investigation and also to allow time to obtain additional discovery evidence. The hearings have twice been continued from the original date of Feb. 12.
Diroche, 28, of 250 S. Poplar St., Apt. 3, Mount Carmel, faces two felony weapons charges after he was allegedly found in possession of a small-caliber revolver when searched by police outside his apartment. He is represented by Paige Rosini of the public defender’s office.
A search of Diroche’s residence allegedly turned up two additional revolvers along with narcotics packaged for resale inside a bedroom that police said was occupied by Soto, 30, of 1752 Walton Ave., 6A, Bronx, N.Y. He is represented by Susan Schwartz, special conflicts counsel.
Both men are convicted felons and are restricted from possessing a firearm, according to police.
They remain jailed on $250,000 cash bail — Diroche at Snyder County Prison, Selinsgrove, and Soto at Northumberland County Prison, Sunbury.
Investigators have been tight-lipped and a state police public information officer is saying little outside of confirming that the investigation continues.
It’s not clear where Yost was when she was shot or if she was alone in the vehicle the whole time prior to having been discovered.
Information contained in search warrants and criminal complaints allege Diroche and Yost were observed together on surveillance footage at a Lewisburg convenience store where Yost works the day before the shooting.
Police also claim Diroche and Yost were in contact through text messages and phone calls about illegal narcotics and about meeting up on Irish Valley Road.
The search warrants targeted the 2013 Chevy Sonic in which Yost was discovered along with Diroche’s apartment and his 1994 Honda Accord EX, as well as Yost’s cell phone and a laptop computer.