Fagundes

David Fagundes, 42, sits with his attorney during a murder trial for the death of his 49-year-old half-sister, Toni Jilbert. 

A jury returned this afternoon with no verdict regarding the murder and arson charges against Washington state man David Fagundes, due to “one lone member.”

Jurors later told attorneys that their decision was 11 to 1 in favor of guilt, but the jury was “totally deadlocked” after more than a day-and-a-half of deliberating.

However, a guilty verdict was reached on the remaining two counts of resisting arrest and issuing violent threats, charges which the defendant did not deny during the trial.

Calaveras County Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Stone stated that his office will seek to retry the case. On Monday, a status conference will be held at the courthouse to discuss whether the case should be retried or dismissed, as the defense has requested.

During conversations with attorneys following the trial, jury members stated that a discrepancy in testimony regarding where a Manteca Power Mart gas station receipt was found, either in Fagundes’ pocket or in his burned car, contributed to their inability to determine guilt.

Other factors listed were not “quite enough” evidence linking the crime definitively to the defendant and issues with one or more jurors not understanding the role of circumstantial evidence.

One juror stated that he would be interested in reading the transcript for the case’s preliminary hearing following the trial and that he would like to learn more about the defendant’s criminal history.

On Tuesday, a hearing was held for the court to consider Fagundes’ 2013 conviction of first-degree manslaughter during sentencing. That conviction was not admitted as evidence for the trial; therefore, jurors were not aware of the prior incident or the defendant’s other reported convictions for felony burglary and battery.

Fagundes, 42, has also been charged with felony assault and battery while being detained at the Calaveras County jail.

During his 2020 murder trial, Fagundes was accused by the prosecution of murdering his 49-year-old half-sister Toni Jilbert (Ferreira) in a drug-fueled state of paranoia by stabbing her multiple times and setting fire to his Chevrolet HHR while she was still breathing inside. He was also accused of stabbing himself in the neck and attempting to commit “suicide by cop” while still at the scene on a rural road in Copperopolis.

Evidence included surveillance footage of Fagundes purchasing a jug of gasoline at Power Mart in the hours before Jilbert’s death and picking her up from work in Manteca, as well as lab results showing Jilbert’s DNA on a knife sheath the defendant was reportedly wearing upon his arrest.

Witnesses included a parade of peace officers detailing a tense, hour-long standoff that occurred at the scene and a cousin of Fagundes who alleged that he arrived in Manteca the day before Jilbert’s death to “take care of” a person he believed was posting images of his daughters on porn sites.

In closing arguments, Fagundes’ attorney Public Defender Richard Esquivel suggested alternative theories including the involvement of an ex-boyfriend of Jilbert and a cigarette starting the fire accidentally. He argued that there was no direct evidence linking his client to the homicide or the fire.

Fagundes remains in custody without bail. A sentencing date for his convicted charges has yet to be determined. 

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Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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