Truckee jury convicts Joseph Ward of second-degree murder
August 2, 2018
Jurors in the murder trial of Joseph Ward took about five hours before convicting him Wednesday of second-degree murder, authorities said.
The jury found Ward, 32, killed 61-year-old Kenneth Pestana at the older man's Highway 20 property. Authorities said that afterward Ward fled in Pestana's vehicle and took his dog. He was arrested the following day in Carson City, and remained jailed through his trial in Truckee.
Ward faces 15 years to life in prison on the second-degree murder charge. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 2.
"I respect the jury's decision," Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said. "I believe this was a first-degree murder case."
According to Walsh, jurors had a choice between first- and second-degree murder. A conviction on a first-degree murder charge requires deliberation and premeditation.
Deputy Public Defender Tamara Zuromskis, who represents Ward, declined comment.
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The trial began July 18, with testimony occurring three days a week. Jurors began deliberating on Friday and continued Wednesday.
Authorities alleged that Ward, who'd known Pestana since he was a teen, slashed his victim's throat on June 7, 2017. He then took his car and dog to Nevada.
People who lived on Pestana's property, about eight miles northeast of Nevada City, found Pestana's body hours later in a shed. Authorities responded and later determined Ward was a person of interest. He became a suspect when officers spotted Pestana's car outside the Carson City apartment of Ward's mother, reports state.
Jaclyn Thun, the mother of Ward's children, said outside of court on the first day of testimony that authorities improperly portrayed Ward as a monster.
"He is a father and a son," Thun said. "They're just painting this horrible picture. He's not this monster. We lost a family member."
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.