A verdict in the murder trial of Washington state man David Fagundes at the Calaveras County Superior Court has been delayed due to the dismissal of a juror during the deliberation process.
The juror was dismissed due to undisclosed personal circumstances after deliberating over the case for several hours beginning on Tuesday. An alternate juror was empaneled, and the jury started over with the process Wednesday morning.
Fagundes, 42, could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if found guilty of first-degree murder and arson, with a special allegation of torture. He has also been charged with resisting arrest and issuing violent threats, as well as several enhancements due to the nature of the charges.
Also on Tuesday, a hearing for the court to consider a previous conviction revealed that Fagundes pleaded guilty in 2013 to first-degree manslaughter, the equivalent of voluntary manslaughter, in Spokane, Wash.
Reading a ruling from the Spokane County Superior Court, Calaveras County Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Stone said that the victim was killed after he was stabbed twice with a butterfly knife.
Initial police reports alleged that the victim broke into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and then went to Fagundes’ apartment next door, where “the men fought and Fagundes bit (the victim) on the forehead several times” before he “fell” on top of the knife, according a Spokesman Review article.
The article also referenced a 1996 felony conviction for burglary in Montana that prohibited Fagundes from possessing firearms, as well as a conviction in Bonner County, Wash. for felony battery.
Fagundes’ attorney Public Defender Richard Esquivel argued in closing Tuesday that there was no direct evidence proving that Fagundes was the person who stabbed his half-sister, 49-year-old Toni Jilbert (Ferreira), and set fire to his car while she was still breathing inside.
Esquivel suggested that the fire could have been started accidentally by a cigarette, or that an ex-boyfriend of Jilbert could have followed them to Copperopolis and committed the act.
The defense called only one witness during the trial, a friend of Jilbert who had reportedly seen an ex-boyfriend of the victim following her about two weeks prior to her death.
Jilbert “just blew him off” and didn’t seem afraid, she said.
Fagundes and his attorney did not deny that a standoff with law enforcement occurred following the incident and that the defendant had issued criminal threats. However, Esquivel rebuked the prosecution’s allegation that Fagundes had been trying to commit suicide due to a guilty conscience, blaming his behavior on the effects of methamphetamine and blood loss from a wound in his neck.