Gun issue moot as Vacaville murder trial nears end

By From page A10 | January 17, 2013

FAIRFIELD — The prosecution is expected to rest Thursday in the jury trial for a Vacaville man who faces a murder charge for the July 30, 2011, shooting death of 20-year-old Quinten D. Nears at an Alamo Drive apartment complex.

The trial was interrupted last week after the prosecutor and the defense attorney for Rico M. Espitia discovered that Vacaville police had seized a gun from a gang member six months after the shooting that the gang member claimed he found near the shooting scene.

Police never found the gun used in the Nears shooting.

At a Wednesday court hearing outside the presence of the jury, the prosecutor advised Judge Donna Stashyn that comparison testing of the gang member’s gun and the bullets recovered from the fatal shooting concluded that the gun was not the murder weapon.

Discovery of the gun had not brought a halt to the trial. Earlier this week, jurors heard from a Vacaville police gang expert who testified that Espitia was a longtime local criminal street gang member and that committing a murder would elevate Espitia’s reputation and status with fellow gang members.

Closing arguments in the trial could be presented Friday.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

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