UPDATE: The stakes in a shocking local murder case just got higher. The 19-year-old college student accused of murdering a Bakersfield attorney could now face the death penalty.
Today, Prosecutor Eric Smith added two special circumstances to the first-degree murder charge against 19-year-old Nicholas Quintana: torture, and lying in wait.
Because of a gag order in this case, we don’t know all the details around the added special circumstances, but by definition, the special circumstance of torture means the defendant intended to inflict extreme pain on the victim while they were still alive.
According to police reports, 19-year-old Nicholas Quintana allegedly attempted to decapitate 26-year-old Marcos Vargas three times, while he was still alive. He also had stab wounds on his face.
The special circumstance of lying wait be definition means a surprise attack after concealing one’s purpose and waiting for an opportune moment to strike.
Court documents obtained by 17 News reveal shocking details in the killing of a young Bakersfield attorney. Reports suggest the brutal murder has unearthed the private lives of both the victim, and the suspect.
People who knew both young men seem equally taken aback by the crime and what detectives found.
We warn you, some of the details of the homicide will be disturbing to some.
It was a terrifying, gruesome scene. 26-year-old Marcos Vargas spent his last moments alive banging on neighbors doors, desperate for help, but unable to speak because of massive wounds to his neck. The blood trail went down the walkway and to each door.
Several neighbors saw Vargas naked and covered in blood, trying to stop the profuse bleeding from his neck. But it was too late.
Investigators determined the crime scene originated in Vargas’ apartment. The blood trail starting on his bed going down the stairs, covering the walls, floors, and furniture.
During the autopsy, the pathologist noted it appeared there were three attempts to decapitate Vargas.
His coworkers and friends told detectives Vargas, was a “fearless advocate” and an incredibly hard-working attorney in the domestic violence unit. Everyone said he was popular.
Those closest to him, including his twin sister, said he was straight, but detectives found Vargas invited several men to his apartment using the dating app MeetMe.
Police say one of those men was 19-year-old Nicholas Quintana. They say Quintana had been to Vargas’ apartment twice: once the night before the murder, second, the night of the crime.
Quintana’s family told investigators the 19-year-old is studying business at Taft College, still lives with his parents, and works at Rite Aid as a cashier and ice cream attendant. They said he was straight too.
Quintana — who denied knowing the victim or ever being at the apartment — told detectives he has a girlfriend in Long Beach. The girlfriend’s address happened to be nearby the storm drain where investigators found the victims cell phone.
When searching his car, detectives found a Smith & Wesson, an AR-15 assault style rifle, and a ski mask.
During the investigation detectives found tragedy has struck the Vargas family before. In 1997, Marcos Vargas’ father was murdered by his father’s brother-in-law.
Nicholas Quintana is facing several charges, including murder.