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Second Arrest In Escalon ‘Cold Case’ Murder
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Jesus Emilio Baraza Valdez has been arrested in connection with the 1979 shooting of local bar owner Joseph Rocha, owner/operator of the former Rocha’s 120 Club. Photo Courtesy San Joaquin County Sheriff

The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department has made an arrest in a decades-old murder case.

“As promised, our Cold Case Unit has been working hard, reviewing and updating old cases as much as possible. Although examining each case is a long and tedious process, they are making strides one case at a time,” the sheriff’s department noted in a post on its Facebook page on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

According to the post, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Detectives made an arrest in a 41-year-old homicide this past December.

Arrested on Dec. 8, 2020 was suspect Jesus Emilio Baraza Valdez, (aka/Emilio Baraza), arrested “for a 1979 shooting of a local bar owner that resulted in his death.”

The bar owner was Joseph Rocha, who owned and operated Rocha’s 120 Club along Highway 120 near Escalon.

Valdez was arrested at his home in Southern California and booked into the Los Angeles County Jail, sheriff’s detectives said.

The shooting occurred on June 27, 1979. The club is no longer in business.

In the original case, Valdez and his accomplice were at the bar and due to their poor behavior, were asked to leave. They returned later to purchase beer and after they were refused, Valdez allegedly shot the owner. He fled the country after the shooting and changed his name.

His accomplice was arrested, charged and convicted for his participation in 1979.