State rests in Quiceno murder trial
The state has rested in its case against Ronald Quiceno for the murder of Travis Buckanaga.
The state on Friday questioned the final four witnesses, including the forensic scientists who processed items for fingerprints, and the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Buckanaga.
Quiceno is charged with second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, assault and possession of a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty.
Quiceno allegedly shot Buckanaga and another man, who was not seriously injured, with a .22 caliber pistol after a fight at the Kountry Manor mobile home park north of Detroit Lakes.
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Forensic Scientist Patrick Warrick testified Friday that the no fingerprints were found on the revolver used in the shooting or the holster that accompanied the gun.
BCA Forensic Scientist Michelle Pearlson checked for DNA on multiple items associated with the shooting.
A thin piece of fabric had been found tied around the outside of the holster. Through testing, Pearlson found three or more traces of DNA on the fabric, with the dominant one matching Quiceno’s DNA.
No DNA was found on the revolver, but a cloth that the revolver was in when given to law enforcement had three or more DNA traces on it. Though none were dominant, Jon Moore’s DNA was one of the matches.
Moore testified that Quiceno came to visit him after the shooting and gave him the gun. Moore later turned it over to law enforcement.
A single source of DNA was located on a bullet found in the mobile home where the shooting took place. That DNA belonged to Barris Guy.
Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Anne Bracy said she found five bullet wounds in Buckanaga’s body, and all of them entered his body from the right side.
She ruled the cause of death as multiple gunshot wounds. The two that likely killed him, she testified, were the two that entered his heart. He also had bullet wounds in his lungs and liver.
She also testified that there was no soot or powder trace near the wounds, meaning the gunshots were from an indeterminable distance, or more than a few feet.
The toxicology test on Buckanaga showed that he had meth in his system, and his blood alcohol content was .154.
Busy day Wednesday
The prosecution sifted through witnesses at a fairly quick rate Wednesday during the murder trial.
A dozen witnesses took the stand Wednesday, starting with Joshua Haugen, 27, who testified that he was living with Jon Moore in Callaway in January, the time of the shooting incident.
He said he was up when Quiceno came to the house in the early morning hours of Jan. 26. Quiceno was there to talk to Moore, who Haugen had told Quiceno was asleep. Quiceno insisted on talking to Moore, Haugen said, so he eventually woke Moore up.
During an interview with law enforcement later that day on Jan. 26, Quiceno told them that Moore hadn’t been home and that he had talked to him on the phone instead. Moore testified Tuesday that he had been home and talked with Quiceno for at least an hour that morning.
Haugen said that Quiceno told him that he had been at Kountry Manor mobile home park and had shot some people. Haugen said he also noticed that Quiceno’s lip was swelled. Several eye witnesses have testified that Buckanaga had punched Quiceno in the face that night.
Haugen said he also saw Quiceno empty the used casings from the revolver that night and throw them into the wood furnace that heated the house.
Haugen said he found out through Facebook that Buckanaga was the one who had gotten shot that night. He checked the social network site later and found out that Buckanaga had died.
When Haugen found out that Quiceno had shot Buckanaga, whom Haugen also knew and was friends with, he said he felt scared and nervous and wanted Quiceno to leave the residence.
He had to help push Quiceno’s van out of the driveway because he had gotten it stuck in the snow. He noticed the passenger side windows had been broken out of the van.
“I just wanted to get him out of there. I didn’t want any part of it,” Haugen said Wednesday, adding that he didn’t want any of his mutual friends with Buckanaga to find out Quiceno was there and think they were buddies.
Haugen also testified that he never called the police after Quiceno had been at the residence.
Tyler Leu also was at the house that night, and he said that he answered the door and let Quiceno in the house.
Quiceno was there looking for Moore, he said, and that Quiceno told him he was sorry if any trouble came to the house because of him.
Quiceno went downstairs where Moore and Haugen were staying and Leu went to bed, he said.
Leu said a couple days later he was looking for shell casings in the furnace with his father, Daniel, and that they found a couple.
He said they put them in an empty bottle and waited for the cops to get them. They never called the police though, he said.
Moore testified Tuesday that he told the police that his uncle had cleaned the ashes out of the furnace and that he didn’t know where the ashes were located.
Becker County Investigator Dan Skoog testified Wednesday that when he interviewed Moore on Jan. 29, he told Moore that Quiceno had said he had given the gun to Moore, even though Quiceno hadn’t said that.
Prosecutor Noah Cashman asked if that is a common tactic law enforcement uses to get information, and Skoog said yes.
Moore turned the gun over to law enforcement, but Skoog said that Moore wouldn’t allow him to search the furnace for the casings and said he didn’t know where the ashes were.
Told to turn himself in
Mel Manning, president of The Refuge in Detroit Lakes, testified that Quiceno and his wife, Elizabeth, and their children had been to The Refuge several times and that he heard on the morning of Jan. 26 that Quiceno had been involved in a shooting.
He said that he waited by the front door of The Refuge in case Quiceno should come there because he “wanted to be there for him if he needed to talk,” Manning said.
Manning had been told by a volunteer at the Refuge that the police were looking for Quiceno. Manning talked with Quiceno around noon that day and told him to turn himself in, he said Wednesday.
He said that Quiceno asked if Manning would loan him money for bail, and Manning said to just turn himself in and they would see what happened from there.
Manning said that Quiceno told him he would contact the police. He told Manning the shooting was in self-defense, but didn’t go into detail about it.
Two days later, after Quiceno was in custody, he asked to speak to Randy Hodgson, the Becker County jail administrator, according to testimony from two correctional officers on Wednesday.
Hodgson testified that Quiceno told him, also in the presence of officer Tyrell Rishovd, that he had a problem he couldn’t fix and that there was a guy dead because of him … probably. They both noted that Quiceno paused before adding the “probably.”
The defense will call witnesses on Monday, and closing arguments will be Tuesday. The jury will then be handed the case to deliberate.
Pippi Mayfield, Detroit Lakes Tribune