[UPDATED WITH SECOND ARREST] Just Another Orange County Murder: Damon L. Nicholson
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UPDATE: Laguna Beach police arrested a second suspect in the Oct. 23 slaying of longtime Hotel Laguna catering manager Damon L. Nicholson. Lake Forest resident Jacob Quintanilla, 20, was booked into Orange County jail Friday night on suspicion of murder.
Police believe Quintanilla was present when 41-year-old Nicholson was beaten to death with a baseball bat during a robbery of his home where clothing, a phone and a laptop computer were stolen. The Orange County District Attorney's office, in announcing Quintanilla's Dec. 8 arraignment, says the second suspect was arrested "as a result of additional investigation and forensic evidence collected from Nicholson's stolen property."
Matthew Thomas Dragna
Courtesy of Laguna Beach Police Department
Quintanilla is a neighbor of Matthew Thomas Dragna, the Lake Forest 19-year-old who was arrested in November for the murder of Nicholson, the Orange County Register reports. Dragna was previously arraigned in Santa Ana court for what is believed to be Laguna Beach's first homicide since 2002. Like Dragna, Quintanilla is being held on $1 million bail, charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery and facing a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted, according to the DA.
He was taken into custody at a Santa Ana rehabilitation center. At the time, police said Dragna entered Nicholson's home in the early morning hours of Oct. 23, beat the older man to death and fled with several personal items. Dragna, who reportedly has a history of drug use and burglary arrests, established a relationship with Nicholson on the Internet before the Laguna Beach man was killed, police say.
When Nicholson did not show up for work at the Hotel Laguna on Oct. 23, a co-worker went to his duplex in the 200 block of Dolphin Way. When no one answered the door, the co-worker entered through a sliding glass door and discovered Nicholson's body sprawled across a couch. Police said at the time that Nicholson, who lived alone, was hit several times in his torso and head with a heavy object but that no murder weapon was found at the home. Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz previously said some of the stolen property had been recovered.
Hotel Laguna owner Claes Andersen had offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the killer of his catering manager of 15 years.
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