Friend says Quiceno fled site with gun
Jon Moore agreed that the early morning hours of Jan. 26 was a tough situation for him.
His friend Travis Buckanaga had been killed, and his other friend, Ronald Quiceno, was at his house, asking for advice regarding the shooting he had just been involved in.
Moore took the stand Tuesday in the murder trial of Quiceno, who is charged with second degree murder of Buckanaga, second degree attempted murder, assault and possession of a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty.
Moore testified that Quiceno came to his house Jan. 26 soon after the shooting, woke him up, talked to him for at least an hour to an hour and a half and then left the revolver that was used in the shooting with him.
In earlier questioning by law enforcement, Quiceno said that Moore wasn’t home when he stopped by and had only talked him over the phone.
Moore said that when Quiceno showed up at his house in the middle of the night, “I thought he might have done something wrong, think he might have shot somebody.”
Quiceno was visibly upset — more upset than Moore had ever seen him, he added.
He testified that Quiceno said he was punched in the face, which he had a swelled lip at the time, and had gotten “jumped by a bunch of people.” He had fired several shots at Buckanaga, Moore said Quiceno told him.
“I don’t think he knew what he was doing. He was upset. He was distraught, for obvious reasons.”
Moore said he saw Quiceno empty the shell casings from the .22 revolver and throw them into the fire in the wood stove that heated the house where Moore lived.
Before Quiceno had left Moore’s residence, Moore went on Facebook and saw already that friends had posted that Buckanaga was dead. He then told Quiceno that he needed to leave his house.
“I gave him a hug and told him he gots to go,” Moore said Tuesday.
He recommended Quiceno give him the gun, which Quiceno did. A couple days later the police came looking for the gun and Moore eventually gave it to them.
When law enforcement wanted to search the ashes from the stove, Moore said his uncle had already emptied the ashes and he didn’t know where they were.
“As far as I knew, they were cleaned up and my uncle took care of it.”
His uncle also lived at the house and was awake when Quiceno was there on Jan. 26. Moore said they clean the ashes out every couple days in the winter.
Moore said that when Quiceno asked him what to do about the van with smashed windows and himself, Moore told him that the police knew where to find him and that he should go home and see his wife and kids before the police came to get him.
Quiceno’s reason for being at scene
During interviews with law enforcement, Quiceno said he was going to Kountry Manor Mobile Home Park on Jan. 25 to talk about God and use his past experiences to teach and motivate others to live a better life.
“I have strong beliefs. I would never hurt anyone intentionally. I don’t abuse my kids,” Quiceno told officers Jan. 26 when they came to his house with a search warrant.
Two interviews with Quiceno were played for the court Monday.
In day three of testimony, two Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agents, Donald Newhouse and Chad Museus, were questioned.
About 1 p.m. on Jan. 26, officers executed a search warrant of Quiceno’s house. Several officers questioned Quiceno in the bathroom of the house, while other officers searched the house. Museus said the BCA recovered two cell phones, a computer, a key ring with a key on it and articles of clothing from the washing machine from the home.
The washing machine contained a pair brown of Timberland boots, a stocking cap, black leather gloves, a brown sweatshirt, brown sweatpants and a brown bath towel.
Museus said the items were taken to the BCA lab, where they were dried in a portable drying closet and then processed as evidence.
He said that bleach was in the washing machine, noting that some of the items had been discolored from the bleach, and noted that bleach destroys DNA.
During the initial questioning, Quiceno said he was “petrified” the night before because he had been at Kountry Manor Mobile Home Park, was punched by Buckanaga and then was jumped by Barris Guy. He told law enforcement that Guy had a gun that went off during a struggle with Quiceno, shooting Buckanaga and Guy.
He said he was at the home to do his motivational rap, adding that he “puts himself in dangerous situations sometimes.”
He also said in the taped interview that he didn’t even want to go to the mobile home because “they were doing stuff I don’t condone.”
Several witnesses testified last week that a rap battle between Buckanaga and Quiceno started the fight. Quiceno was reading rap lyrics from his phone, while Buckanaga was freestyling with lyrics.
Quiceno said that once he heard the shots, he immediately left the mobile home park and drove around.
“I heard crashing and smashing and then I heard a couple more shots” as he drove off, he said. “All I’m trying to do is get out of there. I knew my life was in danger.”
Allen Bloom Jr. testified last week that he broke out the passenger side window in Quiceno’s van as he pulled away from the mobile home that night.
Becker County Investigator Kathy Nguyen said that she interviewed Bloom the night of the shooting and bandaged his hand after noticing it was injured.
Quiceno said he returned to his house during the day on Jan. 26, just a couple hours before the search warrant was executed at 1 that afternoon. Law enforcement said various officers had been doing surveillance of the home since 6:30 a.m. and hadn’t seen any people or vehicles enter or leave the home or garage all morning.
Besides interviewing Quiceno and other witnesses, the BCA agents also collected texts, pictures, call log and video from Quiceno’s cell phone from 48 hours surrounding the shooting. They also collected text messages and a call log from Quiceno’s wife Elizabeth’s phone.
One of the things law enforcement retrieved from the Quiceno’s iPhone was a picture of a pistol in a brown holster, an electric shocking device and a package of Suboxone, which is a chemical used by someone trying to get off another drug, Newhouse said.
“I’m not a drug guy so I’m not real familiar with Suboxone,” he said.
The pistol in the picture was identified as the one used in the shooting Jan. 26.
Later, Quiceno requested a second interview with BCA agents. The court heard a recording of that conversation Monday as well. Quiceno was crying, wanting to know what was going on and what had been gathered so far.
He spoke a bit more on the rap music he liked to perform, telling the agents that he wanted to show people that rap can be used to express themselves in a better, positive way.
He said during the second interview that he was sure Guy had the gun, but then said he wasn’t positive.
“Everything happened so fast,” he said, adding that everyone was arguing inside the mobile home.
“I didn’t do nothing wrong is the thing,” he said. “I went over to help people.”
He said witnesses at the mobile home that night were all lying, saying he shot Buckanaga “’cause they’re all sticking together.”
Helping out the family
Eric and Merchon Ortega both testified Monday, separately, that they sold their van to Quiceno last year. Merchon said that she felt bad for the family because they had five kids and their only means of transportation was a motorcycle.
So she and her husband sold their mini-van to the Quicenos for $1,500. Both Ortegas said that Quiceno made small payments for a while until his college grant money came through and then he paid them in full. The Ortegas signed the title for the van and gave it to Quiceno.
Merchon Ortega said on the morning of Jan. 26, law enforcement came to her house and said that her vehicle had been involved in a crime. She learned that Quiceno had never transferred the title of the van to his name, and it was still under the Ortegas’ name.
After law enforcement left the Ortegas, Eric Ortega said he contacted Quiceno to ask him what was going on and to tell him to contact the sheriff’s office. He said the call was disconnected before he could give Quiceno the number for the sheriff’s office though.
Both of the Ortegas also testified Monday that they had permits to carry handguns and owned four guns at the end of last year, including a .22 pistol with white or light tan grips and a leather holster.
Eric Ortega said that the gun had been his grandfather’s, and it was passed down to his mother when his grandfather died. It was then passed to Ortega when his mother died. After having back surgery and being out of work for a period of time, Ortega said he needed money for Christmas presents and pawned the gun to Quiceno for $300.
“I am definitely certain that’s our gun,” Merchon Ortega said Monday after seeing the gun in court.
Her husband also identified the gun as the one that he had pawned to Quiceno, and the two identified the holster as well.
The day after the shooting, the holster was found along the side of County Road 21. Deb Thornton saw the holster as she was driving to her sister’s house and picked it up, not realizing what it was at first. She turned it over to the Becker County Sheriff’s Office later that day.
BCA forensic scientist Nat Pearlson said Tuesday that the gunshots that killed Buckanaga were fired from at least six feet away. There was no gunpowder residue on Buckanaga’s shirt, meaning the gun was fired from a distance.
He also said that since Buckanaga’s body had been moved, the residue could have shifted if it was in a pattern, or it could have picked up residue if there had been some in the path that he was dragged. But, there was none on the shirt.
Pearlson also testified Tuesday that the passenger side door of the Quiceno van had a marking on it that was consistent with a billet striking it. The site looked fresh and tested positive for lead.
Final shooting witness
On Friday afternoon, Bradley Bloom was the final witness for the prosecution from the night of the shooting, which occurred in the mobile home he was living in.
He said it was hard to give timeframes and list people that were at the house that night because people were going in and out of the home all night, including himself. He said people were “doing some other things in the back.”
Previously when witnesses were asked about the back of the mobile home, they said there was a bathroom in back but acknowledged little more. After questioning from defense attorney Joe Parise, Bloom said there was a back room where people went to do drugs, as well.
“That’s what the back room was for,” he said.
He said all night he was making calls, getting people hooked up with drugs – finding people to buy or sell them. Meth was used at the house that night, he said, and that Quiceno was there looking for Dilaudid, a strong narcotic that Bloom described as “butterflies in your fingertips.”
Bloom said that at one point he came back to the mobile home and found Quiceno outside. He invited him back in but didn’t know much of what had happened between Quiceno and Buckanaga.
“I could tell he was scared to go back inside,” Bloom said.
After they got back in the house though, everyone started arguing, he said.
“It wasn’t so much an argument about anything. It was about to be a fight.”
Bloom testified Friday that he saw Quiceno raise the gun and start shooting. When he did, Bloom said he “hit the wall.” After Quiceno left, though, he wasn’t sure if Quiceno would come back or not.
“Is he going to come back and unload another round?” he said.
He tried to help move Buckanaga after he was shot, but “I don’t know if it helped or did worse cause he was too heavy to pick up.”
Once Bloom saw emergency lights from law enforcement vehicles, he said he ran because he had warrants out for his arrest.
Testimony continues Thursday. It is estimated that state should be done with its case by Friday, or Monday morning at the latest. The jury is expected to start deliberations on Tuesday.
Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.