OCEANSIDE — A teenager accused of fatally shooting his brother-in-law will have to stand trial for the murder, a San Diego Superior Court judge ruled June 10 at a preliminary hearing in a Vista courtroom.
Cesar Magdaleno, who was 17 at the time of the incident, is being charged as an adult with one count of second-degree murder in connection to gunning down Hector Nava on Oct. 22, 2009, while the 26-year-old played a video game in his Oceanside apartment in the 1200 block of El Camino Real.
In his ruling, Judge Joel Pressman called the case a “real tragedy” and said the evidence presented at the hearing opened up many questions, which he said was “bothersome.”
On the surface, the murder seems rather straightforward; Magdaleno took Nava’s 9 mm handgun from the victim’s bedroom and pointed the weapon point-blank at his head and pulled the trigger. Magdaleno, who has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, has maintained the shooting was an accident.
At the preliminary hearing other components to the story were revealed.
Police interviews with Magdaleno and Nava’s wife, Luz Nava, unraveled a failing, possibly abusive, marriage and at least three different versions of the shooting from Magdaleno, who initially denied any involvement.
Oceanside police Detective George Darrah said during the interviews Magdaleno “looked like he was heartbroken that he had hurt his sister.” The detective said he believed Magdaleno was trying to minimize the incident. “He didn’t want me to believe he shot Hector on purpose,” Darrah said.
Despite Magdaleno not liking the treatment of his sister or 5-year-old niece, the teenager said he was still fond of Nava, Darrah testified.
Luz Nava testified Magdaleno and Nava played and wrestled like brothers, including using the victim’s stun gun on one another. She admitted her husband would be careless leave his loaded handgun around their apartment. “He wasn’t very careful with it,” Luz Nava said. “He would just leave it all over the place.”
Magdaleno remains in custody on $3 million bail. His next scheduled court appearance is June 29.