Douglas County man arrested on murder charge of former county resident |

Douglas County man arrested on murder charge of former county resident

by Alan Riquelmy and Adam Trumble

A Douglas County man being held in Carson City in connection with a California murder publicly demonstrated the victim’s innocence in a 2005 criminal case.

Joseph Ward, 27, was arrested without incident at 6:40 p.m. Thursday on a murder charge out of Nevada County, according to Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong.

Ward was wanted in the death of former Gardnerville resident Kenneth Pestana, 61. Pestana was found dead in his Nevada County home after deputies responded around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday to the 22000 block of Highway 20, about 10 miles northeast of Nevada City.

Nevada County authorities responded after a caller said they thought someone might be dead in the house, sheriff’s officials said.

Agencies conducted a search near the Carson City Bella Lago apartments on Airport Road on Thursday night for Ward after finding Pestana’s stolen vehicle in the area.

Nevada County Sgt. Robert Jakobs declined to discuss specifics about the death, saying the victim’s wounds led authorities to believe it’s a homicide.

“We’re just beginning to execute the search warrant in the residence where we hope to collect physical evidence,” Jakobs said.

Jakobs declined to release details about what weapon may have been used.

Pestana served time in 1973 in Soledad Prison in California for second-degree murder more than 40 years ago for second-degree murder, Nevada County authorities said.

In 2004, Ward appeared in a Record-Courier photograph protesting Pestana’s innocence in downtown Minden in a case where the older man was facing kidnapping and drug charges. Most of the case was dismissed after a preliminary hearing, but a final drug charge was dropped in 2005.

Pestana also faced drug charges in 2009, but those too were dismissed.

On Aug. 9, 2011, Pestana was stabbed twice in a fight with his girlfriend. During a search of his home, investigators found a vial that tested positive for methamphetamine.

In a deal with prosecutors, Pestana admitted to a misdemeanor drug charge. Felony charges were dropped in 2012 after he promised to leave Nevada.

The Nevada Division of Investigations, the Nevada City Sheriff’s Department, the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Carson City Sheriff’s Office along with SWAT members were on scene Thursday.

Contributing to this report are Grass Valley Union reporters Alan Riquelmy and Elias Funez; Nevada Appeal Editor Adam Trumble and Appeal reporter Taylor Pettaway.