For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
MAN CONVICTED OF BLUDGEONING AND MURDERING VICTIM IN LAGUNA BEACH APARTMENT
*Co-defendant is awaiting trial in this case
SANTA ANA – A man has been convicted of the bludgeoning-murder of a Laguna Beach resident inside his apartment. Matthew Thomas Dragna, 23, Lake Forest, was found guilty by a jury Dec. 20, 2013, of one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing Feb. 28, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
Co-defendant Jacob Anthony Quintanilla, 25, Lake Forest, faces the same charges and maximum sentence as Dragna. He faces a pre-trial hearing Jan. 10, 2014, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35.
Dragna has been convicted of the following and Quintanilla is accused of the following:
On Oct. 22, 2009, Dragna met 40-year-old Damon Nicholson for the first time after being introduced by a third person. The defendant and the victim engaged in a sexual encounter that night. After meeting the victim, Dragna planned to rob Nicholson the following night by going to his home under the pretense of another sexual encounter.
On Oct. 23, 2009, Dragna and Quintanilla went to the Laguna Beach home of 40-year-old Damon Nicholson. The defendants murdered the victim by bludgeoning him repeatedly in the torso and head with a baseball bat. They left the victim’s body on his couch and fled the scene after stealing personal items from Nicholson including a laptop computer and cell phone.
The victim was discovered Oct. 24, 2009, when a concerned co-worker went to check on him after Nicholson failed to show up for work or return any phone calls.
Dragna was arrested Nov. 18, 2009, by the Laguna Beach Police Department (LBPD). At the time of his arrest, Dragna was in possession of stolen items from the victim’s home. Quintanilla was arrested by LBPD Dec. 4, 2009, as a result of additional investigation and forensic evidence collected from Nicholson’s stolen property.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.