BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A case involving the brutal killing of a local attorney who met his alleged killer through an online dating app has been confirmed for trial later this month.
On Friday, attorneys in the case of Nicholas Quintana said they are ready and a judge scheduled a trial date of Jan. 25. It’s expected a courtroom will be assigned on that date, after which motions will be heard and a jury selected.
Quintana, 22, is accused of killing Marco Vargas, 26, by repeatedly stabbing him at Golden Valley Luxury Apartments in southeast Bakersfield. Vargas had invited Quintana to his apartment after connecting with him on the MeetMe app, court documents said.
Vargas rushed from his apartment early Nov. 29, 2017, a towel held to his neck as he tried to stop blood pouring from his cuts and pounded on neighbors’ doors for help, according to the filings. He died soon afterward.
A pathologist who examined Vargas’ body said deep cuts around his neck indicated three separate attempts to decapitate him, the documents said.
Quintana stole items from the apartment, including a cellphone, and fled from Bakersfield to Long Beach, detectives said in the documents. The stolen phone was later found in a storm drain in Long Beach.
Cell tower records showed Quintana’s phone in the area of the apartment complex at the time of the killing, then traveling to where the stolen phone was discarded in Long Beach, the filings said. Additionally, surveillance footage from the complex captured a vehicle similar to Quintana’s arriving around midnight — just before investigators say the killing occurred — and leaving a short time later.
Quintana has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, robbery and manufacturing an assault weapon.
Vargas, a licensed attorney in Mexico, came to Kern County after passing the bar exam in the United States and worked for Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance.
A lawsuit filed by Vargas’ mother against The Meet Group, the operators of the MeetMe app, alleges it failed to properly screen users, making “violent, dangerous acts against other users more likely.” The next hearing in the suit is scheduled Dec. 17.