Joseph Ward sentenced to 15 years to life in Nevada County murder case |

Joseph Ward sentenced to 15 years to life in Nevada County murder case

TRUCKEE — Joseph Ward, sentenced Tuesday to 15 years to life in prison, chose to say nothing when given the chance.

Convicted in August of fatally stabbing 61-year-old Kenneth Pestana, Ward sat only feet away from his victim’s daughter as she spoke to Nevada County Superior Court Judge Robert Tamietti.

Moments before the sentencing, Jessica Pestana called her father a teacher, protector and best friend. He was a man who believed in Ward, who used to call the older man “Pops.”

“I’ve thought about how I would write this letter for months, but all the words seem to fall short,” Jessica Pestana told the judge. “Every motorcycle I see, every phone call I get, I think it’s him.”

Authorities said that Ward stabbed Kenneth Pestana on June 7, 2017, after coming to visit his mentor at his Highway 20 home, about 10 miles northeast of Nevada City. Officers caught Ward the following day in Carson City. A Truckee jury convicted him of second-degree murder after five hours of deliberation.

“Today there is not going to be any justice,” Jessica Pestana said. “It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t bring my father back. It doesn’t change the amount of sadness I carry with me every day.”

Deputy District Attorney Anna Tyner told the judge that the knife that killed Kenneth Pestana made deep impressions to his spine. She added that Ward’s failure to take responsibility for his actions troubled her.

“This is a no-win situation,” Tyner said. “We’ve been robbed of something that there’s just no restoring.”

A restitution hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 27. A probation officer said almost $17,000 is owed to the victim’s family.

Moments later Tamietti issued his sentence.

“Actions have consequences and that’s what we’re here to mete out today,” he said, adding later: “All we have are losses all around here.”

Listening to the judge, Ward said nothing.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.