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Possible motive revealed in first day of Fagundes murder trial

The following article was originally published by the Calaveras Enterprise.

Prosecutors unveiled a possible motive for the alleged murder of Toni Jilbert (Ferreira) during the first day of her half-brother David Fagundes’ trial, stating that an upcoming testimony from a cousin of Fagundes would reveal that the defendant was “obsessed” with the idea that someone was putting photographs of his daughters on porn websites in the hours leading up to Jilbert’s death.

Calaveras County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Stone told the jury on Monday that the cousin alleges that the said photos shown to her by Fagundes did not appear to be of his daughters, and that he was “acting weird” when he arrived unexpectedly at her home on May 28, 2019 – one day prior to when 49-year-old Jilbert’s charred body was found with multiple stab wounds in a burning car on a rural Copperopolis road.

Stone alleged that Fagundes, 42, was planning to “take care of this person” who he believed was posting the illicit photos, and that he had driven from his hometown in Washington state to “surprise” the recently-married Jilbert in Manteca.

“I’m going to ask that you find the defendant intended to kill Toni Jilbert and that he tortured her by setting fire to the car while she was still alive,” Stone said.

The defense countered with a brief opening statement, arguing that Fagundes and Jilbert “were very close” and had taken various drugs together, including methamphetamine, prior to the incident.

Public Defender Richard Esquivel claimed that his client had passed out in the car and woke up with a stab wound to the neck, prompting him to flee the vehicle and pass out again in a field before the burning Chevrolet HHR was reported and first responders arrived.

“When the police contacted him that day, he didn’t know what was going on. He was freaking out,” Esquivel said.

A Copperopolis ranch owner testified that she saw a person wearing clothes similar to those worn by Fagundes upon his arrest standing up and kneeling back down near Highway 4 and Telegraph Road, while law enforcement officers were processing the scene nearby.

Officials maintain that no civilians were contacted at the scene from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., when Cal Fire Captain Nikolai Shawkey reportedly noticed a man sit up in the grass and lay back down.

Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office investigator Lt. Timothy Sturm testified that a man he identified as Fagundes and the owner of the destroyed vehicle spewed profanity at officers and pretended to have a gun when they asked him to show his hands.

Sturm recounted Fagundes making continuous threats including “this is going to end in bullets” and “I have a [expletive] .45” until he was eventually taken into custody by a SWAT team and K-9 unit.

Fagundes wore a beige shirt and dress pants, as well as a mask, to the first day of his trial, occasionally taking off the mask to speak with his attorney. The jury also wore masks and sat in staggered seats, with some occupying the first two rows of courtroom benches.

Several spectators attended for part of the day, sitting on the prosecution’s side of the courtroom, but later left, leaving the chamber largely empty.

The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday morning, with further testimonies expected from family members, first responders, investigators and experts. The defense has not listed any witnesses to appear during the trial.

Fagundes could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if found guilty of first degree murder and arson, with a special allegation of torture. He has also been charged with resisting arrest and issuing violent threats, as well as several enhancements due to the nature of the charges.


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