Man found guilty in fatal shooting of Fresno teen in 2018

Local News
Nick Kauls Alleged Murderer Robbed a Burger King A month Before, Court Documents Say

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A man was found guilty of a shooting that left a teenager dead in 2018.

On Monday, November 22, a jury found Joseph Espinoza responsible for the shooting that killed Nicholas Kauls, 17.

On June 24, 2018, Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of a shooting outside a home on Sunset Avenue between Van Ness Boulevard and Rialto Avenue. Deputies at the time said four teens were hanging out at a house when two of the teens went out to their car to grab something.

“While they were out there in the car, a vehicle pulled up on the street somebody in the car pointed a gun at them basically said give us all your stuff,” Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tony Botti said at the time. “They refused to do that, turned around, went running to go back into the house.”

Deputies say the suspect opened fire on the teens, hitting Kauls.

Kauls died on June 28, 2018.

On June 26, 2018, detectives with Fresno Help Eliminate Auto Theft Task Force, or HEAT, 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, deputies say the driver used an SUV to ram a detective’s vehicle, as well as another vehicle.

On July 6, the suspect, later identified as Espinoza was arrested after crashing into a patrol cruiser and, running from the vehicle, and attempting to hide in a dumpster at a nearby apartment complex, according to officials from the Sheriff’s office. A Fresno police K9 captured Espinoza, allowing officers to take him into custody.

Later that day Espinoza was charged with murder, among other charges, in the death of Kauls.

On Oct. 4, the trial began, and witnesses started taking the stand.

Over a month later, Espinoza was found guilty of several charges, including murder, attempted murder, second-degree robbery, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, and more.

This article has been updated to correct the verdict. The jury decided Espinoza was not guilty of petty theft.

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