Two men accused of stabbing Marine to death face judge

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SAN DIEGO -- Two men accused in the fatal stabbing of a Camp Pendleton Marine and the wounding of his friend outside a Gaslamp District nightclub pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit robbery.

Jose Oscar Esqueda, 36, and Jeff Shai Holliday, 24, each were ordered held without bail in connection with the death of 21-year-old Ryan Evan Harris and the wounding of 21-year-old Andrew Haulman about 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 29.

Deputy District Attorney Christopher Lawson said the victims and three other Marines had just left a nightclub and had split up to look for their car when one of them, Christopher De Herrera, was bumped by Esqueda then sucker-punched from behind by Holliday.

The rest of the victim group rushed across the street to help their friend, and Esqueda pulled out a knife and stabbed Harris once in the chest, killing him, Lawson alleged. The prosecutor said Esqueda also stabbed Haulman in the back and chest, but Haulman was rushed into life-saving surgery and is expected to survive, according to the prosecutor.

Surveillance video captured much of the incident, Lawson said.

Lawson said Esqueda and Holliday have exhibited a pattern of "predatory" behavior in the past year, including stealing a bicycle from a couple in Pacific Beach last April 15 and accosting shoppers last April 29 as they tried to find their car at the Chula Vista mall.

Esqueda has been to prison twice and Holliday was on probation for a 2014 stabbing, Lawson told reporters.

Esqueda faces 43 years to life behind bars if convicted, and Holliday faces 78 years to life in prison if he's found guilty, according to the prosecutor.

A bail review/status conference was set for Jan. 11 and a preliminary hearing for Jan. 25.

[Story Updated: The original story stated the Marines were at the OMNIA nightclub prior the fight. Nightclub officials said they were not open the night of the incident.]

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