Bakersfield man sentenced to life term for deadly shooting over eviction

Crime Watch

Manuel Ruiz, left, and Douglas Hutchison. File image.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Evictions are never pleasant and often contentious, but usually proceed without an arrest.

Or a homicide.

Last year, however, two men forced to leave a house in northwest Bakersfield returned the following day and got into a heated confrontation with the homeowner. A shot was fired, striking 28-year-old Duran Kenneth Dunhill McDowall.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. McDowall was at the house at the time, and is not the owner.

On Thursday, the gunman, Manuel Jesus Ruiz, was sentenced to a total of 40 years to life in prison. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder in July and acquitted co-defendant Douglas Hutchison.

Judge Charles R. Brehmer told Ruiz, 34, his bad decisions have impacted many people, especially the children and other loved ones of McDowall.

“I don’t know why what happened that day happened,” Brehmer said. “McDowall is dead as a result. You’re punished for it.”

Changes were made to the rental agreement Ruiz and Hutchison had with the owner of a house in the 7000 block of Bandolero Way, forcing them to leave. Prosecutors said the men were unlawfully evicted.

On May 27, 2020, the men drove back to their former residence and argued with the homeowner in the front yard. The homeowner, who is partially paralyzed, tried to run for the front door but fell.

Hutchison approached him and the homeowner told police he believed he was about to kick him.

At that point, McDowall ran out of the house and swung a skateboard at Hutchison, moving him back, according to police reports filed in Superior Court containing witness statements.

Hutchison ran to the vehicle and a gunshot was heard shortly afterward, according to the documents. Then he and Ruiz drove away.

Police arrived to find McDowall lying in the driveway with a gunshot wound to the chest.

Ruiz and Hutchison were found the next day at a home in southeast Bakersfield. They surrendered after a five-hour standoff with SWAT officers.

Multiple witnesses said Ruiz and Hutchison were present when the shooting occurred, and the men themselves admitted to being there, according to the documents.

An investigator wrote in the documents that it was apparent “Douglas Hutchison and Manuel Ruiz acted in concert to commit the shooting that led to this homicide with the motive being related to their anger over the rental arrangement and the manner in which they had to move out of the residence.”

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