Mechanic Is Given 11 Years in Killing of Car Salesman

From Associated Press

A car mechanic accused of conspiring with his boss to kill a car salesman in Carlsbad was sentenced in Vista Superior Court to a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison.

Rocky Timothy Holton, a mechanic at a Pomona car dealership, was sentenced Tuesday before Judge J. Morgan Lester for his role in the death four years ago of Salvatore Ruscitti, 58, of Leucadia.

Ruscitti was gunned down in the doorway of his home Sept. 17, 1988, with his wife and grandchildren just steps away.


Holton’s boss, William Nix Jr., was sentenced last month to life in prison without possibility of parole after being convicted in July of arranging the murder of Ruscitti.

Trial evidence showed that Nix ordered Ruscitti killed because Ruscitti had initiated a class-action lawsuit against the former owners of Kearny Mesa Ford, including Nix’s parents, accusing them of fraud.

As an accused conspirator, Holton faced the same penalty as Nix until he made a deal with the district attorney’s office to plead guilty to manslaughter.

Deputy Public Defender David Rawson argued that Holton played nothing more than a minor role in the murder by readying the car that was used in the killing.

But prosecutor Larry Burns contended that Holton also drove to Carlsbad with Nix in an earlier failed plot to lure Ruscitti out of his house so that Nix could gun him down.

Nix has said Ruscitti’s murder was arranged without his knowledge by Paul Gonzalez, an overzealous mechanic who knew Nix was angry with his former salesman.

Gonzalez, who has admitted hiring a Mexican hit man to kill Ruscitti, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison. Gonzalez also admitted that he embroiled his son and son-in-law in the plot, and that the three men drove to Carlsbad with the hit man to kill Ruscitti. The three family members cooperated with prosecutors and testified against Nix.

The son-in-law, Albert Vargas, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison, and the son, Paul Gonzalez Jr., was ordered to spend three years behind bars.

The alleged hit man, Jose Miranda, is still at large.