Saugus man found guilty of murder in July 2017 shooting

A sheriff's deputy examines the contents of a backpack on the trunk of a radio car near the scene of a fatal shooting in Canyon Country on July 11, 2017. Austin Dave/The Signal

A jury Monday in a San Fernando courtroom found Nicholas Colletta, 21, of Saugus, guilty of first-degree murder in the July 2017 shooting death of Ivan Solis.

Colletta was found guilty of first-degree murder in personally and intentionally discharging a loaded weapon for the benefit, association and by the direction of a street gang, after the prosecution shared testimony from his girlfriend at the time, Jaqueline Arreola, and evidence from the scene, both tying Colletta to the shooting at Begonias Lane Park in Canyon Country.

Colletta shot Solis seven times, once in the head, twice in the upper abdomen and twice in the lower abdomen, according to evidence presented during the trial last week.

Both sides made closing arguments and rested Friday, and Judge Cynthia Ulfig then released the jurors to deliberate on Colletta’s fate. They spent less than an hour before returning a verdict that was sealed Friday, due to public defender Jerome Bradford’s unexplained absence.

Colletta faces a maximum potential sentence of 50 years to life in prison when he’s sentenced next year.

Colletta is due back in court Jan. 18.

According to testimony presented in court last week, on Colletta’s first pull of the trigger, the gun jammed, forcing him to have to clear the chamber of the live round, according to the prosecution. After clearing the firearm, he then proceeded to shoot Solis seven times: twice in the head, twice in the upper torso, twice in the lower torso and once in the right forearm.

The prosecution laid out evidence that they say demonstrated that the bullet casings from a shooting a few days before the Begonias Lane Park incident — which detectives reportedly traced back to Colletta — matched the shell casings of the bullets used by the man who shot Solis to death. Montalban said detectives also found cellphone records showing Colletta’s phone was in the park at the approximate time of the murder.

However, the most damning evidence, Montalban said, was the calls placed by Colletta while he was knowingly being recorded in prison.

On the taped phone calls, Colletta can be heard saying, before the prosecution’s evidence was presented earlier this year, that he knew that the only witnesses were “drug addicted witnesses,” to which Montalban asked the jury, “How did he know who were witnesses?”

“This is not ‘circumstantial’ evidence… this is called ‘overwhelming’ evidence,” said Montalban at the end of his concluding argument. “This evidence proves that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Caleb Lunetta contributed to this report.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS