Modesto double homicide case set to resume in court

rahumada@modbee.comJuly 21, 2013 

    Rosalio Ahumada
    Title: Courts reporter
    Coverage areas: Criminal cases, breaking news
    Bio: Rosalio Ahumada has been a reporter at The Bee for more than seven years, previously covering crime and public safety issues. He also has worked at the Merced Sun-Star, covering education.
    Recent stories written by Rosalio
    On Twitter: @ModBeeCourts

— A mother remains in custody charged with threatening a witness in a murder case that resumes this week for her two sons, who are accused of gunning down two teens last year in north Modesto.

According to testimony, Nanci Sue Blackwell told the witness not to tell authorities everything or "she'd f--- me up." She pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Her sons, Robbie Blackwell, 21, of Modesto and Nicholas Spangler, 28, of Ceres, are accused of murder in connection with the deaths of Rolando Luna and Andrew Ensey.

A preliminary hearing for Robbie Blackwell and Spangler will continue Tuesday in Stanislaus County Superior Court. Because of scheduling conflicts, testimony in the preliminary hearing was put on hold in late March.

At the end of the preliminary hearing, Judge Ricardo Córdova will determine whether there is enough evidence for Robbie Blackwell and Spangler to stand trial.

Nanci Blackwell, 49, appeared briefly in court Friday for a pretrial hearing. Her preliminary hearing has not been scheduled. Her defense attorney, Kirk McAllister, told the judge he has received a transcript of testimony from Melanie Martin, who accuses his client of intimidating her.

McAllister said he needs time to review the transcript before proceeding. Córdova scheduled Nanci Blackwell to return to court Aug. 16 for another pretrial hearing. She was being held at the Stanislaus County Jail with her bail set at $250,000. Her sons were being held at the jail without bail.

Authorities allege that the Modesto woman tried to prevent a witness from giving investigators information regarding the shooting, according to a criminal complaint filed in court April 23. She also is accused of harboring, concealing or aiding a felony suspect to avoid capture, as well as possessing methamphetamine.

Luna, 15, and Ensey, 19, were among a group of males involved in a confrontation with Robbie Blackwell outside a cigarette store on the night of the shooting. The defendant left the store after being punched.

Luna and Ensey also left, walking with others to a nearby apartment complex, where later they were hit by gunfire.

Martin said in court that she withheld information on the witness stand because she was threatened by the defendants' mother. Martin was with Robbie Blackwell that night and witnessed the confrontation at the cigarette store.

She testified that Nanci Blackwell told her not to tell investigators that she returned with the defendant to his parents' home after the confrontation. She also didn't say she left the home without Robbie Blackwell after the shooting occurred.

Martin said in court that she later returned to the home and picked up Robbie Blackwell, his father and Spangler's girlfriend. Spangler was not there, and neither was his girlfriend's white Lexus.

The shooting occurred about 9:15 p.m. Feb. 10, 2012, in the 2400 block of Vera Cruz Drive near Floyd Avenue, several blocks from the Blackwells' home. Witnesses have testified that the gunfire came from a white car, possibly a Lexus.

Nanci Blackwell and her husband told investigators the defendants left their home before the shooting occurred and didn't return that night. The defendants were arrested several days after the shooting.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at or (209) 578-2394. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeCourts.

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