Closing arguments begin in murder trial in attorney’s 2017 killing

Crime Watch

UPDATE (4:48 p.m.): Prosecutor Eric Smith began his closing argument Wednesday afternoon and will finish Thursday morning. He will be followed by defense attorney Timothy Hennessy’s closing argument, and the case will then be handed to the jury.

Smith said Nicholas Quintana’s version of events is not supported by the evidence. Quintana testified he suffered serious injuries as he fought to escape Marcos Vargas’ apartment. Investigators, however, found no blood evidence form Quintana at the scene. They also didn’t find blood evidence in his car.

Vargas was the only one injured in the encounter, Smith said. That’s because he was attacked from behind and tried to defend himself as Quintana inflicted deep cuts, grinding the cutting weapon — either a knife or box cutter — into his neck and stabbing and slashing him, the prosecutor said.

Quintana followed the “cold and calculated” killing of Vargas by calmly walking through the apartment looking for things to steal, Smith said.

Then Quintana fled to his girlfriend’s home in Long Beach, destroyed evidence and lied when police arrested him months later. Those actions, each of which Quintana has admitted to, show he was aware of his guilt and did his best to avoid getting caught, Smith said.

Smith resumes his closing argument at 9:15 a.m.


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Closing arguments have been postponed to Wednesday afternoon in the trial of a man charged with killing a local attorney.

Attorneys had been scheduled to present their closing arguments at 9:15 a.m. in the murder trial of Nicholas Quintana, but Judge Brian M. McNamara told the jury the arguments were postponed to 1:30 p.m. due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

The judge didn’t elaborate, but Quintana, held in Lerdo Jail, was not in the courtroom and court officials said his and other court hearings were impacted by the escape early Wednesday of two inmates in an unrelated case.

Quintana, 22, has admitted to repeatedly stabbing Marcos Vargas but said he acted in self-defense as he fought to escape from the attorney’s southeast Bakersfield apartment. He said he willingly went there after the two connected on a dating app but the attorney refused to let him leave.

Prosecutor Eric Smith has said Quintana planned to rob and kill the 26-year-old Vargas. He argued the brutality of the killing — in which Vargas was nearly decapitated — is due in part to Quintana’s hatred of gay men, something Quintana denies.

Smith derided Quintana’s claim of self-defense, noting many of his injuries were inflicted from behind, there is no evidence Quintana was injured during the alleged fight and Quintana stole a laptop and cellphone before fleeing the apartment. The killing occurred Nov. 27, 2019.

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