Brothers will face trial in two Modesto shooting deaths in 2012

rahumada@modbee.comJuly 24, 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 judge on Wednesday determined two brothers must stand trial accused of murder in the deaths of two teenagers gunned down last year while standing outside a north Modesto apartment complex.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova scheduled defendants Robbie Blackwell and Nicholas Spangler to return to court Aug. 19 for an arraignment hearing. They remain in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.

Authorities say the defendants are responsible for the deaths of Rolando Luna, 15, and Andrew Ensey, 19, who were among a group of males involved in a confrontation with Blackwell outside a nearby cigarette store on the night of the shooting. The defendant left the store after being punched.

Testimony in their preliminary hearing indicated that Blackwell went to his parents' home after he was punched at the store. Then, he and his brother left the family's home before gunfire erupted 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.

One witness testified that he saw Blackwell firing a gun from the car's back seat as the vehicle drove by the group of males.

Father wasn't charged

Blackwell, who did not testify in the hearing, told investigators that his brother fired the gun as he directed his father who was driving the car. Authorities have not charged Blackwell's father in this case.

Witnesses have testified that the gunfire came from a white car, possibly a Lexus.

Spangler's girlfriend testified that she and Spangler drove his mother home in her white Lexus before he left and her car went missing. The following day, she picked up her car, which was parked in a carport not far from the shooting scene.

The defendants were arrested several days after the shooting.

Melanie Martin, who was with Blackwell during the confrontation at the cigarette store, testified that Blackwell's mother threatened her not to tell police everything she knew from that night.

Nanci Sue Blackwell also is being held at the jail. She has been accused of preventing a witness from giving investigators information regarding the shooting.

The Modesto mother also is charged with harboring, concealing or aiding a felony suspect to avoid capture, as well as possessing methamphetamine. She is scheduled to return to court Aug. 16 for a pretrial hearing.

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

Modesto Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service