Nearly three years after the accused Jacob Anthony Quintanilla and Matthew Thomas Dragna allegedly entered the Laguna Beach home of Damon Nicholson and beat him to death with a baseball bat, some are wondering what's taking so long for the case to go to trial.
Those questions are now starting to be asked by some prominent national media publications like the Advocate, long known as the Newsweek for the gay, lesbian bisexual and transgendered community.
Nicholson was employed as an event planner by the when Quintanilla and Dragna allegedly entered Nicholson's apartment through an unlocked sliding glass door on October 23, 2009. After reportedly bludgeoning Nicholson, the pair allegedly stole a computer and other items from the apartment.
The Advocate reporter, Mike Spradley, hints that the trial delays are due in some part to an anti-gay bias in the Orange County District Attorney's office, which spokeswoman Farrah Emami refutes, explaining to Spradley that such delays—in the form of many continuances requested by the attorneys for Quintanilla and Dragna—are pretty normal in murder cases. From the story (viewable at this link):
"My office has been ready for over a year to prosecute," Emami says. "We have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt in the case ... The courts often give the defense as much time as they require pre-trial. This is a precaution to ensure the case is legally sound in the event the defense files an appeal saying they did not have time enough to prepare."
The next pre-trial hearing for Quintanilla and Dragna is slated for August 31. If the two are convicted, they face a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole.