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Jury deadlocked in trial of slain Bakersfield attorney

Nicholas Quintana found guilty of weapons charge
Nicholas Quintana
Posted at 2:38 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 17:53:03-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The jury has returned a mixed decision in the case of a man accused of stabbing to death Bakersfield attorney Marcos Vargas in a manner so blunt, prosecutors say the victim was nearly decapitated.

The trial of Nicholas Quintana ended with the jury deadlocked on murder and robbery charges, finding the defendant guilty of only a weapons charge. The jury told Judge Brian M. McNamara that further deliberations would not result in them reaching a verdict on the remaining counts.

Quintana, 22, was accused of stabbing Vargas to death in November 2017. During the trial, several witnesses and investigators testified to the grisly scene left at the Golden Valley Luxury Apartments where Vargas was killed. Christopher Bagby, one of the investigators, testified to the pools of blood throughout the victim's apartment and outside the rest of the complex. He described crime scene photos that depicted blood on the furniture and walls of the apartment. A trail of blood droplets was described leaving the apartment. Bagby said the blood splatter indicated the victim left the apartment and did not return.

Prosecutors said Quintana and Vargas met on a dating app. Prosecutor Eric Smith said cell phone records put Quintana in the area the night of the murder and his cell phone was then tracked to Long Beach, near where Vargas' phone was found.

Court documents show that investigators allegedly found text messages between Quintana and his girlfriend, discussing the case making the news, and joking about how the described height did not match his standing. The documents also showed Vargas had conversations with multiple men on the app, inviting them to come to his apartment to have sex. One of those people was Quintana.

Quintana's defense attorney Timothy Hennessy said during opening statements that his client is not a murderer, but a kid with a secret. He said the events of that night were purely self-defense.

When Quintana was arrested, he allegedly was found with a black rifle and black ski mask. Quintana told police he did not know Vargas and had not been in the area of his murder.