Opening statements in retrial of 2 men accused of killing La Quinta artist
Opening statements will are scheduled Monday in the retrial of two men accused in the murder-for-hire of a La Quinta artist.
Jesse Dean Nava and Jerry Eugene Reynolds were convicted in February 2007 of murder and a special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain in the slaying of Bernardo Gouthier on Oct. 25, 1997, but their convictions were overturned in 2008 by an appeals court because of a jury selection error.
Nava and Reynolds, who are being held without bail, are being retried on the charges at Indio's Larson Justice Center, where opening statements are scheduled for 9 a.m.
Gouthier, 42, was shot to death in the front yard of his La Quinta home in an area known as Sculpture Park, where he displayed his work and that of other artists. Nava, 32, and Reynolds, 57, were arrested in 2001 in connection with the murder.
Co-defendant Michael Marohn pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in December 2006 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Co-defendant Mario Gonzalez was tried separately, convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Pattison Hayton, the estranged husband of Gouthier's live-in girlfriend, Kathy Barr, allegedly hired Reynolds to have Gouthier killed. Hayton and Barr were involved in a contentious divorce, according to the prosecution's trial brief.
"Reynolds, who received some $55,000 from Hayton near the time of the killing and who eventually admitted his role in a recorded phone conversation, in turn hired defendant Nava and a Michael Marohn to do the actual killing. Nava and Marohn brought in another individual, Mario Gonzalez, to assist in the killing," the document alleges.
According to another court document, Nava, Marohn and Gonzalez went to Gouthier's home while Barr was out having dinner with friends, and Nava allegedly used a Taser on Gouthier and then shot him several times. Four bullets were found in Gouthier's body, and his death was found to have been caused by multiple gunshot wounds to the back, according to the document.
Nava and Marohn told police in interviews that they were paid to go to Gouthier's home to kill him. Gonzalez, who allegedly loaned Nava the murder weapon, told the police he went to help with a robbery, according to the document.
Hayton is believed to have died in 2003, before authorities could track him down.
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