Cisneros guilty of second-degree murder
December 19, 2005
A Carson City jury found Maximilliano Cisneros guilty of second-degree murder but acquitted him of attempted murder in a May 2004 shooting that left Juan Carlos Alegria dead.
After deliberating about six hours on Friday and resuming deliberations Monday morning at 9 a.m., the jury of five men and eight women returned their answer about 10:20 a.m.
Cisneros, who will turn 24 on Thursday, did not react to the verdict. He contended that he never intended to shoot Alegria and was only reacting to Fidel Fuentes after Fuentes broke into his estranged girlfriend’s apartment and found Cisneros inside.
Cisneros faces 10 years to life or 10 to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 19. Because a deadly weapon was used in the crime, his sentence will be automatically doubled and must be served consecutively.
According to court testimony, Alegria, 24, drove Fuentes to the Eighth Street apartment just before midnight. About 20 minutes earlier, Cisneros, of Los Angeles, had arrived to visit tenant Katie Armstrong, Fuentes’ ex-girlfriend.
Cisneros testified he was in the apartment when Fuentes began banging on doors and windows in an attempt to get in. When Katie Armstrong asked Cisneros to leave through a back bedroom window, he said he tried to comply, but someone was at the back window blocking his exit.
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Fuentes eventually broke through the front door, and as Armstrong ran out, he confronted Cisneros in the bedroom. Cisneros said he pulled out a handgun and ordered Fuentes to leave and Fuentes ran from the room.
When he tried to leave the apartment, Cisneros said, he was surprised to see Fuentes in the front yard, posturing as if he wanted to fight. Cisneros said when Fuentes reached behind his back, he thought he was reaching for a gun, and Cisneros opened fire, striking Alegria, who was standing in the yard, three times in the torso and Fuentes once in the back of the calf.
Deputy District Attorney Tom Armstrong told jurors Fuentes was wrong for breaking into the apartment and Cisneros had every right to tell him to leave at gunpoint. But, he pointed out, shooting Alegria, and hitting him three times, was not an accident.
“It’s hard to deny Fidel Fuentes’ culpability in this case,” he said when asked why he thought the jury found Cisneros not guilty for attempting to murder Fuentes. “The important thing is we focused on Juan Carlos. He’s the important guy in this case.”
Defense Attorney Ben Walker, who argued for a voluntary manslaughter charge if not an acquittal, said he was disappointed.
“I thought the verdict was correct to Mr. Fuentes. We were arguing if the shooting of both victims wasn’t justified because of Fuentes kicking in the door and invading the home, then it would be no more than voluntary manslaughter. In order for it to be voluntary manslaughter, we had to show he was still acting under the heat of passion of the situation with Fuentes.
“The district attorney was arguing that wasn’t the case, that (Cisneros) did have time cool off and the jury didn’t buy voluntary manslaughter,” he said. “What we have are two men that are standing probably no more than 6 or 7 feet apart and Cisneros gets acquitted of shooting one and convicted of shooting the other. I was thinking that voluntary manslaughter was the most appropriate. I thought there was a chance of doing that.”
n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.