Joseph Ward, accused of murder, appears in Nevada County Superior Court |

Joseph Ward, accused of murder, appears in Nevada County Superior Court

Joseph Vincent Ward, charged with murder in connection with the death of Kenneth Pestana, appeared Thursday in Nevada County Superior Court for the first time.

Accused in the June 7 death of the 61-year-old Kenneth Pestana, Ward was booked Wednesday afternoon in the Nevada County Jail.

He appeared Thursday morning for his arraignment, where he opted against entering a formal plea on his murder charge. The judge ordered him held without bond.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 17.

Authorities say they arrested Ward, 31, a day after friends of Pestana found him dead at his Highway 20 home with multiple cuts to his neck. Ward fled to Nevada, was arrested and then fought extradition to Nevada County.

District Attorney Cliff Newell said that Nevada prosecutors dropped a vehicle theft charge against Ward, leaving only the issue of extradition.

Newell then obtained a governor’s warrant and served it on Nevada prosecutors. That led to a Nevada judge ruling that Ward is, in fact, the person accused of murder in Nevada County. That ruling meant Ward was returned to California.

“We get their fingerprints,” Newell said of governor’s warrants. “We get a photograph. It just drags it out a little more.”

Authorities pegged Ward as a suspect after speaking to people who found Pestana’s body, an affidavit states.

Deputies responded to Pestana’s home after the discovery and interviewed witnesses. They said that Ward had been at Pestana’s home in the days before his death, the affidavit states.

Before leaving Pestana’s home Ward said he’d take a dog for a walk. Others noticed later that Ward, the dog and Pestana’s car were missing, court documents state.

Nevada and local authorities first traveled to Douglas County, Nevada, where Ward once lived. They then went to Carson City and found the missing car outside the apartment of Ward’s mother, Nevada authorities said.

They arrested Ward later that day.

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

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