Sentencing rescheduled for man convicted of killing La Quinta artist

Jesse Dean Nava was one of two men convicted in the murder of 43-year-old Bernardo Gouthier.

INDIO, Calif. - One of two men convicted of second-degree murder in the October 1997 slaying of an artist in his La Quinta home was scheduled to be  sentenced to prison Friday. However, a judge rescheduled the sentencing for November 1st.   

   Jesse Dean Nava was convicted in an April retrial of the murder of 43- year-old Bernardo Gouthier. Co-defendant Jerry Eugene Reynolds was also convicted and sentenced in June to 15 years to life in prison.

   The defendants, who both represented themselves in the trial, were  initially convicted in Gouthier's slaying in February 2007, but their convictions were overturned in 2008 by an appeals court panel due to a jury selection error.

   A third man, Michael Marohn, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Another co-defendant, Mario Gonzalez, was tried separately, convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison  without the possibility of parole.

   Gouthier was shot on Oct. 25, 1997, at his La Quinta home in an area known as Sculpture Park, where he displayed his work and that of other artists.  Nava, 33, and Reynolds, 57, were arrested in 2001 in connection with the  murder.

   Pattison Hayton, the estranged husband of Gouthier's live-in girlfriend,  Kathy Barr, hired Reynolds to have Gouthier killed, according to the prosecution. Hayton and Barr, who had a young son, were involved in a  contentious divorce, Deputy District Attorney Scot Clark said.

   ``We're here because greedy men killed Bernardo Gouthier at the behest  of an angry, jealous, controlling, immature, rich man,'' Clark told jurors in his closing argument. ``We're here because Jesse Nava went into that home with his confederates ... and shot Bernardo Gouthier four times. We're here because  Jerry Reynolds is the middle man at the behest of that rich man, setting  everything in motion.''

   Clark told jurors that Hayton used Reynolds, his ``go-to guy'' in other matters, to ``exploit ... young men to get the deed done.'' He said Nava  ``blames Mr. Gouthier for his own death,'' but, in fact, shot him in the back  ``like a coward.''

   Nava said he went to collect payment for a debt owed to him.

   ``I had no premeditation or deliberation to kill this man. There was no murder for hire,'' Nava told jurors in his closing argument.

   He said he didn't intend to kill Gouthier and didn't benefit financially.

   ``If it was for financial gain I would have shot him, got my finances and left ... but it escalated,'' Nava said.

   Reynolds said in his closing argument that Nava and Marohn were high on drugs at the time, and Nava entered Gouthier's house to get money or stolen  artwork.

   According to the prosecution, Nava, Marohn and Gonzalez went to  Gouthier's home in a truck supplied by Hayton while Barr was out having dinner with friends, and entered the victim's home as he was getting ready to leave to meet Barr.

   Gouthier, who was forced to his knees in his bedroom, tried to get away and was shot four times by Nava, once in the neck and three times in the back, according to Clark.

   Reynolds, who worked on the air conditioning at Hayton's home in PGA West in La Quinta, was at Hayton's house the days before and after the killing, and he received a large stock transfer and cashier's checks totaling roughly  $55,000 from Hayton, the prosecutor alleged.

   Hayton died of a heart attack in 2003 in London before authorities could arrest him, Clark said.

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