Union City woman's death was initially believed to be suicide, but now her boyfriend is charged with murder

2 months ago The Mercury News

OAKLAND — A year after a Union City woman died of what was initially thought to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, her boyfriend has been arrested and charged with murder, court records show.

Nolan Rian Hurd, 23, was charged last September with one count of murder in the death of 20-year-old Nikha Marcella DeGuzman. Though the charges were filed more than three months ago, Nolan was not arrested until Dec. 15, when police in Stockton took him into custody. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday.

A probable cause statement filed by Fremont police lays out in horrifying detail how Hurd went from being viewed as a potential witness of DeGuzman’s suicide to being wanted for murder and suspected of covering up a homicide. The shooting occurred in room #219 at a Fremont hotel, but police have not revealed the location of the shooting, nor was it initially reported by local media.

Hurd was identified as a suspect based on the angle of the bullet, gunshot residue tests, witness statements, and his own conflicting accounts of the shooting, authorities say. Despite all this, police initially recommended that Hurd be charged with a lesser count of involuntary manslaughter, not murder, though no explanation is offered for the disparity.

The shooting took place a little before 10 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2022. Police say that DeGuzman was initially shot behind the ear, but that the bullet missed her skull and she was initially conscious and alert. According to police, it was Hurd who called 911 — though investigators believe it was several minutes after the shooting — and that DeGuzman could be heard talking in the background.

Fremont police Det. Rachel Nieves wrote in court records that, “Based on the calls I believe that Hurd was trying to influence her to say she shot herself and convince the witnesses as they arrived that it was self-inflicted.”

The pistol was found underneath DeGuzman’s right leg.

Other hotel guests reported seeing Hurd banging on doors and asking for help after the shooting, while DeGuzman was seen crawling in a hotel hallway before losing consciousness, while Hurd allegedly told her not to leave and trying to get her back into their room. Some heard the couple arguing before the shot was fired, police say.

Nieves also reviewed police body-worn cameras showing Hurd’s initial interacts with the responding officers.

At one point, he can be heard saying, “I love you… what did I do… Please I did the best I can… I did the best I can,” according to police. At his initial interview at the Fremont police department, Hurd simply placed his head on the table, began crying, and ignored an investigator’s attempts to talk to him for 30 minutes, at which point he was released.

DeGuzman was hospitalized and died two days later, on Jan. 29, 2022. Her obituary describes her as a James Logan High School graduate who attended Chabot College and worked as a service representative for Apple, Tesla, and Round Table Pizza. It says she loved animals, was a talented artist, and wrote poetry, literature, and music in her spare time.

“She was a devoted worker, and often took the responsibility of working late nights. She always was self-sufficient and an independent young lady,” the obituary says.

In April, police interviewed Hurd for a second time at the Santa Rita Jail, where he was in custody for an unrelated criminal investigation. They say that this time — after initially claiming he was in the room when DeGuzman shot herself — that he was actually in the bathroom, but he denied touching the gun. Hurd’s mother allegedly told police that he had confided in her that he had, in fact, handled the pistol after DeGuzman shot herself.

Finally, police say they calculated the trajectory of the gunshot, and believed it was fired from the bed. Nieves wrote that “based on the angel of the entrance wound and trajectory of the fired round I believe that it is physically impossible” for DeGuzman to have shot herself.

Hurd is being held without bail at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

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