BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – A case involving the brutal death of a local attorney who met his alleged killer through an online dating app was confirmed for trial later this month.
On Friday, lawyers in Nicholas Quintana’s case said they were ready and that a judge had set a trial date for January 25th. A courtroom is expected to be assigned that day, after which applications will be heard and a jury will be selected.
22-year-old Quintana is accused of killing 26-year-old Marco Vargas by repeatedly stabbing him at the Golden Valley Luxury Apartments in southeast Bakersfield. Vargas invited Quintana to his apartment after connecting with him on the MeetMe app.
Vargas rushed out of his apartment in early November 29, holding a towel to his neck as he tried to stop the blood from his cuts, and according to records, knocked on neighbors’ doors for help. He died soon after.
A pathologist examining Vargas’ body said deep cuts around his neck indicated three separate attempts to behead him.
Quintana stole items from the apartment, including a cell phone, and fled Bakersfield to Long Beach, detectives said in the documents. The stolen phone was later found in a storm drain in Long Beach.
Records from the cell tower showed that Quintana’s phone was in the apartment complex area at the time of the murder and then traveled to where the stolen phone was thrown away in Long Beach. In addition, surveillance videos of the complex recorded a vehicle that resembled Quintana’s arrival around midnight – just before investigators said the murder had taken place – and departed a short time later.
Quintana pleaded not guilty of murder, robbery, and the manufacture of an assault weapon.
Vargas, a licensed attorney in Mexico, came to Kern County after passing the US bar exam and worked for Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance.
A lawsuit brought by Vargas’ mother against The Meet Group, the operators of the MeetMe app, alleges that users have not been properly screened, making “violent, dangerous acts against other users more likely.” The next hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for December 17th.