Man accused of killing Tulare County dairy farmer pleads not guilty in court

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Action News had the only camera rolling when Jorge Rivera appeared for the first time at the Tulare County Pre-Trial Facility on Friday afternoon.

The 26-year-old is accused of murdering his dairy farm boss, 56-year-old Tony Dragt on Tuesday afternoon.

Dragt's family members reportedly told investigators Rivera had been harassing them since June, which is when he was allegedly fired for not showing up for work.

With a court employee by his side, Rivera appeared to question signing paperwork to move forward with the arraignment that was done through video conference with a judge.

"Sir, if you do not want to sign that if you do not want to do the video arraignment that's your right we would then put the matter over to Monday in department three so those are your option I can do it now or you can wait till Monday," the judge said.

RELATED: Former employee in custody for murder of Tulare County dairyman

Instead, Rivera chose to sign the document, and he pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Rivera faces first-degree murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and having an illegal weapon in his vehicle.

If convicted, he could face 50 years to life in prison.

David Alavezos, assistant district attorney for Tulare County, says seeing cases like this impacts everyone.

"Homicides affect the entire community and this case is like any case when it comes to that the whole community when any person's life is stolen," Alavezo said.

And in this case, the family of Dragt is still deeply affected. The senseless loss is still fresh and they are asking for privacy during this difficult time.

But for now, the accused killer is expected to appear back in court in two weeks.
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