A 20-year-old man who has already spent two years in jail was acquitted Tuesday of charges he orchestrated the fatal shooting of a tow truck driver in a March 2012 Las Vegas Valley robbery scheme.
A jury found Jurdoun Holmes not guilty of the death and robbery of Wallace David Zarza, 44, on March 1, 2012, in a central valley neighborhood. He also was found not guilty of a separate robbery.
Holmes’ two co-defendants in the Zarza shooting — Daniel Goodman, 20, and Tyler Ashley, 17 — had taken plea deals and testified against Holmes during the week-long trial.
They said Holmes was the mastermind of a plot to lure Zarza, A Quick Response towing and roadside assistance employee, to the area to buy a 2010 Toyota Camry and a 2008 Suzuki.
When Zarza arrived in the 2500 block of Ellingson Drive, near the intersection of Vegas Drive at Simmons Street, he was ordered to his knees and shot in the back after an argument with the three young men, authorities said.
Zarza’s iPhone and two company checks were stolen.
Defense lawyer Josh Tomsheck argued at the trial that Ashley, the shooter, and Goodman were shifting blame onto Holmes for what they had done.
Tomsheck said it wasn’t a robbery at all. Ashley had set up the meeting to sell stolen property to Zarza and when the transaction went bad, Ashley killed Zarza, the lawyer said.
Following the verdict, Tomsheck said, “The death of Mr. Zarza was, without question, senseless and tragic. Our hearts go out to his family. Thankfully, the individuals responsible, Mr. Ashley and Mr. Goodman, will at least serve some measure of time in prison for their actions.”
Holmes always maintained his innocence and “is eternally thankful to the jury for listening to a full and complete recitation of the evidence before rendering their decision and exonerating him,” Tomsheck said.
Clark County prosecutor Tom Carroll said there was telephonic evidence and witness testimony that linked Holmes to the two robberies charged in the case.
“The jury must not have thought the telephone evidence was strong enough on its own and doubted the testimony of some of the witnesses,” Carroll said.
“We felt the evidence in its totality proved all the crimes charged, but we accept the jury’s verdict,” Carroll said.
As part of his deal with prosecutors, Ashley pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon, robbery and conspiracy. Also, a second felony possession of stolen property case is set to be dropped against Ashley in May, court records show.
Goodman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy.
Both are to be sentenced May 22 by District Judge Jerry Tao, who oversaw Holmes’ trial.
Holmes was released from custody following the verdict after spending more than two years in jail awaiting trial.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @fjmccabe