BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Jurors in the murder trial of Nicholas Quintana can either believe Quintana’s testimony that he fought a local attorney in self-defense, inflicting grisly injuries, or they can believe the evidence at the scene, a prosecutor said.
They can’t believe both because the blood and other evidence at the scene contradict what Quintana says happened, prosecutor Eric Smith said during his closing argument Thursday.
The jury began deliberations at 2:45 p.m. after attorneys finished presenting their closing arguments. It will resume deliberating 9 a.m. Friday.
Quintana, 22, faces life without parole if convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances of lying in wait and means of torture. He’s also charged with robbery and transporting an assault weapon.
Smith told the jury Quintana, 22, wasn’t an inexperienced, scared kid who made a desperate attempt to escape from the apartment of Marcos Vargas early Nov. 29, 2017. Quintana had planned to attack and rob Vargas, he said.
After repeatedly stabbing and slashing the attorney, he stole at least two items — a cellphone and laptop — then drove to his girlfriend’s home in Long Beach, the prosecutor said.
“He’s a murderer, that’s what he is,” Smith told the jury.
Quintana attorney Timothy Hennessy argued his client went to Vargas’ apartment because he was sexually curious. He and Vargas went upstairs Vargas’ bedroom, but Quintana decided he wanted to leave. Vargas refused to let him go, Hennessy said.
Vargas shoved Quintana and brutal fight ensued, Hennessy said in his closing argument.
“This wasn’t a robbery,” he said. “This wasn’t a burglary. This wasn’t about theft. None of that.”
Quintana fought to escape, Hennessy said, and the only items he stole were those that could prove he had been at the apartment. He took those items because he didn’t want to explain that he had gone there to possibly become intimate with another man, the attorney said.
This is a case of self-defense, Hennessy said. But if the jury cannot accept acquitting Quintana due to the severity of the injuries Vargas suffered, then it should find him guilty of manslaughter, not murder, he said.