Joseph Ward, charged with murder, demands preliminary hearing |

Joseph Ward, charged with murder, demands preliminary hearing

Joseph Ward

Murder suspect Joseph Ward on Thursday refused to waive a legal requirement that his preliminary hearing be held within 10 days, forcing attorneys to schedule the day-long court appearance on Oct. 10.

Ward, 32, is accused in the June 7 death of 61-year-old Kenneth Pestana. He appeared Thursday in Nevada County Superior Court, where deputy public defender Tamara Zuromskis noted that her client is scheduled for a hearing next week on a motion to access property.

Ward then interrupted.

“Your honor, I’d like to put in a not guilty plea today,” he said despite Zuromskis’ advice to delay. “I’ve made up my mind.”

It’s common for defendants to waive their right to a preliminary hearing, which gives prosecutors and defense attorneys more time to prepare. By refusing to waive that right and pleading not guilty on Thursday, Ward forced attorneys to schedule his preliminary hearing within 10 court days, settling for Oct. 10.

Judge Linda Sloven will hear the motion to access property that same day.

Ward then called out to friends and family in the audience as he was led from the courtroom, ignoring a deputy’s order to stay silent.

“Love you, mom,” Ward said. “Love you, brother.”

Authorities claim that Ward fled to Nevada after killing Pestana at the older man’s Highway 20 home. Police arrested Ward in Carson City the day after friends found Pestana’s body. Ward then fought extradition, delaying his return to Nevada County.

Ward remained in jail Thursday afternoon without bond, records state.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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