A Washington state man will stand trial next week for the alleged murder of his half-sister in a vehicular inferno.
David Joseph Fagundes, 42, stands accused of stabbing 49-year-old Toni Jilbert (Ferreira) and setting fire to his Chevrolet HHR, parked on a rural road in Copperopolis, while she was still breathing inside. He could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of arson and first degree murder, to which the prosecution has added a special allegation of torture and other enhancements.
Fagundes is also charged with resisting arrest and issuing violent threats in connection to a standoff with law enforcement that reportedly occurred just 200 yards away from the charred vehicle and temporarily shut down Highway 4 traffic on May 29, 2019.
During a preliminary hearing in October, the defense called no witnesses to refute the claims of the peace officers, investigators, fire personnel and medical examiners who testified against Fagundes, but contested that there was no evidence established by the prosecution linking the defendant to the stabbing or the setting of the fire.
Evidence presented by the prosecution during the hearing included surveillance footage of Fagundes picking up Jilbert from work the night before she was found dead inside his car—more than 40 miles away from Manteca, where their evening reportedly began.
Jury selection for Fagundes’ trial began Wednesday at the Calaveras County Superior Court. Opening arguments are expected to commence on Monday.