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Nov. 27, 2021

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Vancouver teen wanted in Clackamas, Ore., homicide case appears in court

Boy, 16, appeared in Clark County on a fugitive from justice warrant

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

A 16-year-old Vancouver boy appeared Monday morning on a fugitive from justice warrant in Clark County Juvenile Court stemming from a homicide investigation in Clackamas County, Ore.

Cesar Soto Gama, who is identified in court records, is wanted in Oregon on suspicion of second-degree murder, first-degree assault and unlawful use of a weapon.

He is believed to have fatally shot an acquaintance, Juan Tomas Santos Bautista, 16, whose body was found the evening of Jan. 26 in a car at the northbound French Prairie Rest Area along Interstate 5. The victim, from Washington, was identified by police Monday.

Authorities have not publicly identified Soto Gama as the suspect or said how the two teens knew each other.

But according to a spokeswoman with Vancouver Public Schools, both had been students in the school district. Santos Bautista withdrew from the district about two years ago; Soto Gama was enrolled at Hudson’s Bay High School.

A GoFundMe page for Santos Bautista states: “He was a very loving and bubbly person. He always loved to make everyone laugh and smile.”

Soto Gama was arrested Saturday by Oregon State Police and the Vancouver Police Department, according to Oregon authorities. He was lodged into the Clark County Juvenile Justice Center.

On Monday, Clark County Superior Court Commissioner Carin Schienberg appointed the teen an attorney and granted Oregon’s request that he be held without bail. Soto Gama is scheduled to be back in court Wednesday morning, after talking with counsel, to decide whether he will waive his right to contest extradition to Oregon.

It’s unclear if Soto Gama’s case in Oregon will be handled in juvenile court, where public information is limited, or adult court.

His Clark County defense team said they don’t believe Soto Gama has representation in Oregon yet.

The teen’s mother and sister were present in court Monday. Speaking through a Spanish interpreter, and with assistance from her daughter, the mother said detectives had seized her cellphone and vehicle as part of the investigation.

According to court records, Soto Gama was booked into Clark County juvenile detention in another case last year. Investigators viewed his prior booking photo to help confirm his identity. That case — second-degree residential burglary, malicious mischief and criminal trespass — was exonerated after he was referred to diversion.