BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The fate of Nicholas Quintana is now in the hands of 12 Kern County jurors as deliberations begin in the murder trial of a Bakersfield attorney.
The second day of closing arguments wrapped up Thursday afternoon. Quintana, 22, is accused of stabbing to death Bakersfield attorney Marcos Vargas in a manner so blunt, prosecutors say the victim was nearly decapitated.
While the defense and Quintana say the events of that night in November 2017 were purely self-defense, prosecutor Eric Smith painted a much grislier picture in his closing statements.
"The only thing keeping his head attached was his spine," Smith argued Tuesday.
Smith argued this was a planned attack and the Quintana wanted to rob Vargas. During his closing arguments Wednesday, Smith said that even medical examiners in this case said that the amount of energy it would take to inflict the wounds found on Vargas would have been exhausting.
Smith read to the jury the qualifications for self-defense, stating that self-defense requires the use of no more force than is reasonably necessary.
"This was mutual combat at best," Smith said.
Defense attorney Timothy Hennessy painted a different picture. Hennessy described the events of that night as self-defense between a sexually aggressive man and a curious 19-year-old.
Hennessy argued that Quintana went to Vargas's apartment that night because he was sexually curious, but changed his mind once they went upstairs. According to Hennessy, Vargas refused to let Quintana leave and that's when the fight began.
Hennessy asked the jury to imagine if Quintana were instead a 19-year-old woman. "It feels different," he said.
In his final closing argument, Smith asked the jury to look at the evidence and to look at Quintana's credibility.
"There is no lawful justification for what happened that day," he said. ”He doesn’t have it. It doesn’t exist for him.”
Quintana faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted of first-degree murder.
His attorney said if the jury cannot see this case as one of self-defense, then to convict him of manslaughter, not murder.