Fresno man charged in murder of 17-year-old Nick Kauls

Crime
Nick_1530895817904.jpg

A Fresno man was charged in the murder of 17-year-old Nick Kauls, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.

It’s the case that has saddened the Fresno area for nearly two weeks.

Nick was shot in the course of robbery on June 24 and later died on June 28.

On Friday, the DA announced that Joseph Antonio Espinoza, 22, of Fresno, was charged in Nick’s murder and a slew of other charges, the DA’s Office said.

Espinoza, who was in court Friday, was arrested on assault charges last week stemming from an incident that occurred on June 26. Nick was shot two days earlier, the DA’s Office said.

On June 26, detectives with Fresno H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Theft Task Force) found a 2018 Toyota Highlander that had recently been reported stolen, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said. As they approached the driver of the vehicle at a fast food restaurant near Shaw and Cedar avenues, the driver used the SUV to ram a detective’s vehicle, as well as another vehicle.

The suspect, later identified as Espinoza, ran from the vehicle and tried to hide in a dumpster at a nearby apartment complex, the Sheriff’s Office said. A Fresno Police K9 found and bit Espinoza allowing officers to take him into custody. Espinoza was booked into the Fresno County Jail and remained in custody.

An ongoing investigation by the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the Fresno Police Department, and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office into the string of attempted robberies and shootings that occurred on the night of June 24 — culminating in the shooting death of Nick Kauls — resulting in murder charges being filed Friday, the DA’s Office said.

Espinoza’s 17 charges include:

  1. Assault with a Semi-Automatic Firearm with the Personal Use of a Firearm on June 24th [P.C. §245(b) & 12022.5(a)]
  2. Attempted Second Degree Robbery with the Personal and Intentional Discharge of a Firearm on June 24th [P.C. § 664/211 & 12022.53(c)]
  3. Petty Theft on June 24th [P.C. § 484(a)]
  4. Murder with the Personal and Intentional Discharge of a Firearm Causing Death on June 24th [P.C.§ 187(a) & 12022.53(d)]
  5. Attempted Murder with the Personal and Intentional Discharge of a Firearm on June 24th [P.C. §664/187(a) & 12022.53(c)]
  6. Attempted Second Degree Robbery with the Personal and Intentional Discharge of a Firearm Causing Death on June 24th [P.C. § 664/211 & 12022.53(d)]
  7. Attempted Second Degree Robbery with the Personal and Intentional Discharge of a Firearm on June 24th [P.C. § 664/211 & 12022.53(c)]
  8. Assault with a Semi-Automatic Firearm with the Personal Use of a Firearm on June 24th [P.C. §45(b) & 12022.5(a)]
  9. Assault with a Semi-Automatic Firearm with the Personal Use of a Firearm on June 24th [P.C. §245(b) & 12022.5(a)]
  10. Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Vehicle) with the Personal Infliction of Great Bodily Injury on June 26th [P.C. § 245(a)(1) & 12022.7(a)]
  11. Unlawful Driving or Taking of a Vehicle on June 26th [V.C. § 10851(a)]
  12. Receiving Stolen Property Exceeding $950 on June 26th [P.C. § 496(a)]
  13. Carrying a Concealed Firearm in a Vehicle on June 26th [P.C. § 25400(a)(1)]
  14. Carrying a Concealed Firearm on a Person on June 26th [P.C. § 25400(a)(2)]
  15. Leaving the Scene of an Accident on June 26th [V.C. § 20001(a)]
  16. Assault upon a Peace Officer on June 26th [P.C. § 245(c)]
  17. Resisting, Obstructing, or Delaying a Peace Officer on June 26th [P.C. § 148(a)(1)].

The murder charge also includes the special circumstance that the murder of Nick Kauls was committed by the defendant while he was engaged in the commission of the crime of robbery.

He has a court appearance scheduled on July 16.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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