Justice Still Sought for Laguna Beach Gay Man Murdered in 2009

It's been three years since Damon Nicholson, a popular event planner, was viciously murdered. So why haven't his alleged killers faced a jury yet?

BY Mike Spradley

August 22 2012 12:21 PM ET

"I will never get the image of Nicholson out of my mind," Kravetz said. "What a horrible and senseless killing."

Nicholson was an event planner and manager at Hotel Laguna and often planned city functions, parties, and other events. Many in Laguna Beach knew him professionally and socially.

The Nicholson case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy, according to Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney's Office. Emami says the long delay in the trial is due not to antigay animus, but numerous continuances requested by defense attorneys.

"My office has been ready for over a year to prosecute," Emami says. "We have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt in the case. A two-year delay is not that uncommon in a murder trial. The courts often give the defense as much time as they require pre-trial. This is a precaution to ensure the case is legally sound in the event the defense files an appeal saying they did not have time enough to prepare."

Emami said the Orange County District Attorney's office understands how painful long trial delays are for the family and friends of homicide victims.

"Did he suffer?" asks Nicholson's friend Lisa Marcus Cooper. "Was he feeling helpless and scared in the very last moments of his life? There is a penance is to be paid. So let's not look at a 'gay man's murder,' but more at a cold-blooded murder that needs action by our judicial system."

The next pre-trial hearing for Quintanilla and Dragna is set for August 31. They're being charged with special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery. If they are convicted, the maximum penalty is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Tags: Crime

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