Near Elma / Lovingston
Nelson County, VA
We first told you about the December 14, 2011 murder of Amy Holden in this post late last year.
Tuesday June 19, 2012 Nelson’s Commonweath Attorney Anthony Martin released the following statement regarding a guilty plea by Francis Panal Quiros who was charged with murder in that case. Below is the verbatim release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: June 19, 2012
RE: Nelson County defendant pleads guilty to 2nd degree murder
FROM: ANTHONY MARTIN, COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY
Francis Panal Quiros, a 39 year-old man, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder following the December 14, 2011 killing of Amy Holden, 41 years old, who lived in Shipman. The guilty plea hearing was held this morning in the Nelson County Circuit Court before the Honorable J. Michael Gamble.
Nelson County deputies responded to the Holden residence in the early morning hours of December 15, 2011 after a man (later identified as Francis Quiros) called 911 to tell them to send an ambulance because he thought he killed someone.
When deputies arrived, Quiros was standing outside Amy Holden’s home with a bloody towel and blood on his clothes. After securing a search warrant, Nelson County deputies assisted by the Virginia State Police conducted a crime scene investigation and found Holden lying face down on the living room floor with head injuries and what appeared to be pieces of glass lying near her head. No weapons were recovered and her body was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond for autopsy.
Dr. Kevin Whaley, a forensic pathologist, determined that Ms. Holden died from manual strangulation (or choking) with blunt force trauma as contributing factors in her death. Holden also had numerous bruises and scratches on her legs and arms which indicated defensive injuries.
While not recalling the actual killing, Quiros told investigators that he had been living with his brother and his wife who was Amy Holden’s sister for 6 months prior to the murder. They lived within walking distance from Holden’s home. Quiros recalled going over to Holden’s trailer shortly before midnight to borrow a book. After Holden told him to leave he “blanked out” and only remembers washing blood off his hands in the sink. After contemplating hiding the body and leaving the area, Quiros decided to call 911.
Forensic scientists located Quiros’ fingerprints on the pieces of glass found near Holden’s body and were consistent in color and depth to the glass found on Holden’s body at the scene. DNA testing also confirmed that the blood on Quiros’ clothing was Amy Holden’s. There was no evidence of sexual assault or any other crimes.
Quiros was going to face a Nelson County jury in August on charges of first degree murder meaning that he acted with premeditation.
After reviewing all the evidence and after consulting with the Holden family and getting their approval , the Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin accepted a plea of guilty to second degree murder meaning an unlawful killing with malice but not done with premeditation.
“After carefully reviewing all the evidence, I feel second-degree murder is more appropriate in this case because there were no weapons involved; Holden’s death occurred very quickly after an obvious physical struggle; and there’s no concrete evidence that Mr. Quiros planned to murder Holden that night”, Martin said.
Martin added that there was some evidence that Quiros wanted a relationship with Holden for many years, but that there was no formal relationship after speaking with family members and after Quiros denied to investigators that he was in a romantic relationship with Holden.
Quiros faces up to 40 years in prison at a later sentencing hearing.
Sentencing for Mr. Quiros will be August 28, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. in the Nelson County Circuit Court.