Second suspect charged in murder case

UPDATE: A second suspect has been arrested and charged in the bludgeoning murder of Damon Nicholson, who was found dead in his Laguna Beach home after an apparent robbery on Oct. 23.

Jacob Anthony Quintanilla, 21, of Lake Forest, and co-defendant Matthew Thomas Dragna, 19, also of Lake Forest, are each charged with suspicion of one felony count of special circumstances murder during the commission of a robbery, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office. 

Quintanilla was arrested Dec. 4; Dragna was arrested in November. Each  faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted, according to the district attorney’s office. Both defendants are being held without bail.

Quintanilla is expected to be arraigned today, Tuesday, Dec. 8. Dragna is scheduled for a continued arraignment on Jan. 8.


Investigators believe that Quintanilla accompanied suspect Dragna to the victim’s house and that Quintanilla was present while Dragna allegedly beat the victim to death with a baseball bat, according to Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz.

After the attack, the two men proceeded to steal many items from the residence, including a laptop computer and cell phone, Kravetz said. Police are still trying to locate the laptop computer.

Items from the Nicholson home were found at Dragna’s Lake Forest residence, according to police. That evidence also led to the arrest of Quintanilla.

Nicholson was well known in Laguna Beach as the catering manager at the Hotel Laguna. Hotel owner Claes Andersen has put up a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Nicholson’s killer or killers.


The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Laguna Beach Police at (949) 497-0371 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Ed Berakovich at (714) 347-8492.