Defendant in 2004 killing claims he was acting in self defense | NevadaAppeal.com

Defendant in 2004 killing claims he was acting in self defense

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer

Maximilliano Cisneros was acting in self defense when he fired four shots in 2004, killing one man and injuring another, his attorney said Monday during opening statements in Cisneros’ murder trial, which continues today.

“Even though Max killed Juan Carlos Alegria and shot Fidel Fuentes, his actions were justified because of the circumstances created by Fidel Fuentes,” said attorney Ben Walker. “Fidel Fuentes created a situation and put a chain of events into motion that could not be stopped.”

Prosecutors say, however, that Alegria was standing innocently outside and had done nothing to threaten the man who shot him.

On May 24, 2004, Cisneros was visiting Fuentes’ estranged girlfriend, Katie Armstrong, at her Eighth Street apartment when Fuentes appeared, banging on the doors and windows.

“When she realized who was there, it scared her to death,” Walker said. “She was scared to death Fidel Fuentes was going to come in and beat her up.”

Walker said Cisneros tried to flee the apartment through a back window, but someone was standing outside it.

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Then, Fuentes burst through the front door and found Cisneros in the back room.

“Max had a gun he’d been packing for about a week,” Walker said, explaining his client had bought it from a woman who needed money for a move. “He pulls the gun up and says ‘Get out of here’ to Fuentes.”

Walker said Cisneros followed Fuentes to make sure he was leaving.

“When he gets to the front door, (Fuentes) has turned around and is now facing him, taunting him.”

“(The neighbor) will say she saw Fidel reach down and, as she thought, adjust his pants. Max thought he was going for a gun. He had to make a split-second decision.”

Cisneros fired off four shots, striking Alegria, who was standing outside. Fuentes was able to run across the street with a bullet wound to his leg.

But Deputy District Attorney Tom Armstrong argued Juan Carlos Alegria was an innocent bystander. He said Alegria was never involved in the altercation, had only accompanied Fuentes to the apartment and watched from outside as Fuentes broke in.

“This was a needless and aggressive use of deadly force. By all eyewitness accounts, (Alegria) was doing nothing but standing there. The state of Nevada will show that this is not self defense – this is murder,” he said. “Alegria was not shot in the house. He was shot at least two times in the back.”

Opening statements began about 3:30 p.m. after both sides spent the morning seating a jury made up of eight women and five men.

Judge Bill Maddox told jurors the trial could go into next week.

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.