A Sonoma County jury convicted a homeless man this morning of the first-degree murder of another transient at the public library in downtown Santa Rosa last Christmas Eve. Vladimir Sotelo-Urena, 27, faced trial for the killing of 22-year-old Nicholas Bloom on Dec. 24, 2013. The jury deliberated two hours Friday, all day Monday and returned its guilty verdict around 10 a.m. today, Deputy District Attorney Robert Waner said.
In his closing argument Friday, Waner said Sotelo-Urena pursued Bloom with a chef’s knife for 40 yards before stabbing him 70 to 80 times in the neck and torso. Sotelo-Urena then kicked Bloom in the head as he lay on the ground, Waner said. “It was a brutal, barbaric attack,” Waner said. Sotelo-Urena then concealed the knife under a blanket in a backpack and was about to leave the library area between Third and Fourth streets until he realized he was seen by a witness and heard police sirens approaching. Waner said Sotelo-Urena had blood on his clothing.
The prosecutor said Bloom pulled cash and a wallet from his pockets before he was stabbed and it was light enough and there was enough time for Sotelo-Urena to see Bloom was not armed. “Premeditation and deliberation is the heart of the case,” said Waner, who called the attack “payback.”
Defense attorney William Mullan told the jury Sotelo-Urena believed Bloom was one of three men who confronted and stabbed him three times in downtown Santa Rosa on Nov. 11. “He acted in self-defense,” Mullan said. “The prosecutor wants to present you with a monster or crazy man. He might be paranoid, but Vladimir Sotelo-Urena is no monster,” Mullan said. “Bloom was the boogeyman out there if there was a boogeyman,” Mullan said. Sotelo-Urena was treated at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital for stab wounds and received a bill for $37,000, Mullan said.
Mullan said Sotelo-Urena was doing everything right to get off the streets and on the night of the murder, he lost his chance to get into a shelter because he worked until 11 p.m. “He reads the Koran and has schedules of prayer meetings and bus schedules,” Mullan said. Mullan said Bloom was a “young methamphetamine-addicted, homeless, rebellious, emaciated and scary-looking man in the dark” who approached Sotelo-Urena with his pupils dilated. “He was a threat of death,” Mullan said. Sotelo-Urena faces 26 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 18.
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