Charges dropped in Brown Street shooting

A felony charge was dismissed Friday against a Carson City man accused in a Nov. 24 shooting.

Justice of the Peace Robey Willis released bail money for Rigoberto Vega-Aguilar, 24, and freed him from house arrest. Willis agreed with District Attorney Noel Waters' motion to dismiss filed Friday afternoon.

Vega-Aguilar was charged with the shooting of Ceasar Muñoz, 27, on Brown Street.

According to Waters' motion, he was forced to dismiss the charges with the option to refile because evidence in the case was weak.

"It is apparent to me that there are significant shortcomings which make it advisable not to proceed," Waters wrote. "Among these are the fact that the weapon involved in the shooting of victim Ceasar Muñoz has not been recovered. Muñoz initially identified Vega as the person who shot him. He now states that his certainty of the identity of his assailant is 'a 5 on a 1 to 10 scale.'"

Waters noted Muñoz could also possibly face charges since there was an alleged exchange of gunfire between Muñoz and his assailant.

"(Muñoz) is, to put it charitably, not otherwise an ideal prosecution witness," Waters said.

Waters also stated a lack of independent witnesses to the shooting made it further difficult to prosecute Vega-Aguilar.

"A number of persons were observed in the vicinity who could have been prospective eyewitnesses. However these persons were not detained, identified and interviewed at that time," he wrote.

Friday's dismissal was reminiscent of a 2001 case in which Vega-Aguilar was arrested and charged in the shooting of Muñoz' older brother Gabriel. When Gabriel Muñoz failed to appear for testimony the District Attorney's Office offered Vega-Aguilar a plea to a lesser charge.

Ceasar Muñoz appeared for the hearing Friday, but apparently left after learning the charges were being dropped.

"There's been animosity between the Muñozes and yourself for a long time. Stay away from them," Judge Willis admonished. "Stay out of trouble Rigoberto, this was really a close call."

Vega-Aguilar's girlfriend Sharon Gomez pleaded guilty to obstructing police Dec. 13 by failing to open the door when deputies were searching for her boyfriend.

Accessory charges against Israel Ralla, 23, were not dismissed Friday. He was bound over to district court and has a hearing Jan. 31.

Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.


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