Crime - Sacto 911

Trial to begin next week in 2013 Natomas killing, arson

His girlfriend took a deal this week, but the fate of David Acuna, accused of killing a Natomas man, then torching the man’s apartment in 2013, will be decided at his murder trial set to begin next week in Sacramento Superior Court.

Sacramento police found and arrested a severely burned Acuna at his Brewerton Drive home in south Natomas on Feb. 6, 2013, days after Patrick Kendrick’s body was found Feb. 1 in a fully engulfed Norwood Avenue apartment. Kendrick had been stabbed, his home set ablaze, investigators said. Acuna, then 29, was charged with murder and arson in the man’s death. His trial is set for next Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Kendrick and Acuna knew each other, said police at the time. And there had been an argument. Attorneys in pretrial motions Tuesday said Acuna had tried to sell electronics to Kendrick. Kendrick offered heroin. Acuna wanted cash, but the pair ultimately settled on a deal before the fight and fire that left Kendrick dead and Acuna badly burned.

Acuna, hurt and on the run, fled in a Honda Civic, said police officials.

But officers questioned Guadalupe Cabrera, Acuna’s girlfriend, the morning of the fire. She was later arrested and on Monday accepted a nine-year prison deal, agreeing to charges of arson and arson with the use of an accelerant in connection with the killing and fire, said Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Hightower. Sentencing is scheduled for June 5.

In pretrial hearings last week, detectives who were called to Acuna’s apartment on a search warrant the day of Kendrick’s killing testified they questioned Cabrera, first, in Natomas that February day, then at Sacramento Police Hall of Justice on Freeport Boulevard.

Cabrera had initially been considered a witness in the suspected murder and arson, detectives testified, calling it a “fact-finding mission,” but Cabrera was later arrested on suspicion of accessory to murder and arson to an inhabited structure.

Cabrera’s counsel argued during the hearings that police illegally questioned and detained the Natomas woman. But Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny rejected the argument, and on Monday, Cabrera took the plea deal.

Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.

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