Trial underway for man accused in gruesome murder of Bakersfield attorney

New details in homicide of local attorney
Documents show suspect in attorney murder case connected to other crimes
Posted at 11:16 AM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 18:52:52-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif (KERO) — Opening statements began Wednesday in a gruesome murder trial. Nicholas Quintana, 22, is charged with the death of Bakersfield attorney Marcos Vargas, who was found covered in blood and nude outside the Golden Valley Luxury Apartments in November 2017.

Prosecutor Eric Smith laid out the scene during his opening statements, with crime scene photos depicting the lacerations to Vargas's body when he was found. Smith stated some cuts to his neck were two inches deep.

Smith also called his first two witnesses to the stand, Carol Bracy and Claudia Lopez, both coworkers of Vargas at the Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance. Both women described Vargas as a happy person who was beloved in the office.

"He was one of my closest friends at the office," Lopez said.

Lopez described working with Vargas in the domestic violence unit at the GBLA and said they bonded over their mutual experience as Hispanic attorneys. While she described Vargas as a happy person, she noted he had "suffered a lot" in his early life. She said those experiences only heightened his excitement and determination in his work.

"He just wanted to become the best attorney he could," she said.

Meanwhile, the rest of the testimony given Wednesday sounded like something out of a horror movie. Multiple officers from the Bakersfield Police Department were called to the stand to describe the scene they saw the night Vargas was killed.

Vargas's body was discovered by a neighbor on the night of Nov. 28, 2017.

BPD officer Charles Jordan, who was one of the first on the scene that night, testified that when he first arrived as saw the body, the amount of blood at the scene led him to wonder if there was another victim or the suspect had been injured.

Aaron Brown of the Bakersfield Police Department testified, describing a large amount of blood throughout the entire scene, which spanned from inside the apartment to outside near the parking lot. Brown described footprints photographed in the blood splatter.

Inside the apartment, witnesses described photos taken at the scene, which showed pools of blood throughout the apartment and on the furniture.

Court documents show that investigators allegedly found text messages between Quintana and his girlfriend, discussing the case making the news and joking how the described height did not match his standing.

The documents also show 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 cell phone records show he was in the area of where the murder happened around the same time. His cell phone was then tracked to Long Beach, near where Vargas' phone was found.