An arrest warrant his been issued for the suspected killer of Leonicio "Lio" Pimienta, 50, who was gunned down last month on a well-traveled St. Helena street corner.
The Napa County District Attorney's Office has filed a premeditated murder charge against Nicolas Villalobos-Olivera, 31, of St. Helena. A no-bail arrest warrant was issued by the court. As of Monday afternoon, Villalobos-Olivera was still at large.
St. Helena Police Chief Robert Wedell has turned all inquiries over to the district attorney's office. As far as Villalobos-Olivera's whereabouts, all Wedell would say was, "We have some information we are following up on this time."
Assistant District Attorney Bob Greggins, who has been assigned the case for prosecution, declined to comment.
At this time, the DA's office has not filed any special circumstances in connection with the murder charge that would meet the criteria to prosecute the crime as a capital murder case and potentially seek the death penalty. Special circumstances include murder with robbery as the motive, lying-in-wait to commit murder and other allegations.
According to court records, Villalobos-Olivera lives with his mother in the 1000 block of Allison Street in St. Helena. The residence is just a block away from where Pimienta was killed at around 3:30 p.m., July 22, on the corner of Pope and Edwards streets.
Villalobos-Olivera lives with his mother, who had a long-term relationship with Pimienta, the court documents stated. At one time Pimienta lived with the suspect and his mother at her Allison Street home.
Pimienta was shot seven times at close range with a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun, the records stated. Witnesses told police they saw a man with a silver handgun shoot the victim. According to court records, the victim fell to his knees after the first several shots were fired, then fell over as the suspect continued to shoot him.
The suspect then fled across Pope Street, through the Ogletree Apartments, where Pimienta lived. Villalobos-Olivera was seen running east through another apartment complex toward a creek.
Witnesses also pointed out Villalobos-Olivera's vehicle, which was parked on Edwards Street. The Department of Motor Vehicles showed Villalobos-Olivera as the registered owner of that vehicle, the records stated.
Although a massive manhunt followed, the suspect was able to get away in another vehicle, according to authorities. That vehicle, a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass, was found in a location that police will only describe as being in Northern California, on July 28.
Investigators found a cell phone in the creek behind the apartments, about 150 feet from where Villalobos-Olivera lives on Allison Street. After examining the cell phone, detectives determined that a seven-minute phone call from Villalobos-Olivera's girlfriend was made to the cell phone at 12:48 p.m., the day of the murder, the records stated.
Investigators also found several .45-caliber bullet casings at the murder scene, and the bullets removed from the victim were also from a .45-caliber handgun, the report said. Detectives discovered that the suspect is the registered owner of a .45-caliber Colt handgun. That weapon has not been located.
On July 24, detectives served a search warrant at Villalobos-Olivera's home. Although no weapons were found, investigators seized a credit card statement for $1,097.50 for a purchase at a Napa gun shop by Villalobos-Olivera, the court records showed.
Wedell has not commented on a motive for the slaying, but said there has been no evidence to suspect the killing was drug-related.
Pimienta was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and had been a Napa County resident for the past 34 years. He worked in construction. According to his neighbors, Pimienta was a quiet man who didn't drink or do drugs, was always helping others and liked to watch soccer on TV.