Joseph Antonio Espinoza will stand trial for the alleged botched robbery and fatal shooting of 17-year-old Nick Kauls, a Fresno County judge ruled Thursday.
Espinoza, 23, is charged with multiple felonies, including murder and attempted murder, in the June 24, 2018 crime that shocked the community of Fig Garden.
Kauls, a San Joaquin Memorial High School student, was hanging out with this friends that night at a house on Sunset Avenue.
At about 11 p.m., Kauls and another friend left the house to retrieve Kauls’ vape pen from his car. As they walked back toward the house, a white SUV pulled up slowly and attempted to rob the boys, Fresno County Sheriff’s Detective Adam Maldonado testified during Espinoza’s preliminary hearing.
Detectives allege it was Espinoza who shot at Kauls and a friend as they tried to flee. Kauls was struck in the head and died four days later.
However, Espinoza’s attorney Ralph Torres told Judge Arlen L. Harrell they identity of the shooter is still in question.
The deadly shooting followed a series of robberies allegedly involving Espinoza and at least one other person, according to court testimony.
Espinoza will be arraigned on Oct. 3. If he is found guilty, he could face life in prison without parole, said prosecutor Deborah Miller.