The family of a Stockton fire captain who was fatally shot last year while responding to a dumpster fire could have to wait several months for the shooter to be sentenced.

Robert Somerville, 69, of Stockton, was found guilty in February of second-degree murder for killing 47-year-old Stockton Fire Capt. Vidal “Max” Fortuna.

Inside a Stockton courtroom this week, a defense attorney for Somerville said they would be filing a motion for a new trial for his client.

The prosecution and defense attorneys are set to return to court Aug. 28 at 9:30 a.m. for a motion-setting hearing, when the defense will file their motion.

Robert Somerville is awaiting sentencing in the January2022 shooting death of Stockton Fire Captain Vidal ‘Max’ Fortuna. (Stockton Police Department via Bay City News)

Lee Neves, a spokesperson for the San Joaquin County District Attorney, said there is not an exact date when Somerville will be sentenced but the hearing could be months away depending on the judge.

On Jan. 31, 2022, at 4:45 a.m. Fortuna and other fire crew members responded to reports of a trailer fire at 142 S. Aurora St.

Police said when firefighters noticed that the blaze was advancing toward a building in the area, they attempted to enter the structure to extinguish the fire but suddenly shots were heard.

Stockton Fire Captain Vidal ‘Max’ Fortuna. (File photo)

Fortuna, a 21-year veteran of the department, had been shot. Officers were dispatched to the scene at 5:02 a.m. and took the captain to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

During the trial, prosecutor Elton Grau said in his closing argument that Somerville fired a weapon several times into a dock door in the back of his warehouse knowing that a person was there.

However, during a police interrogation, Somerville had said he shot his gun to scare possible intruders away, not to kill anyone.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank God in heaven for the hope of a new trial.
    This was a tragic accident, who wouldn’t be in fear, living in Stockton and hearing someone at 4:45 AM trying to enter your business/home! The area in Stockton in know for criminal activity

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