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, was convicted of second degree murder in the Jan. 31, 2022, shooting death of Stockton Fire Capt. Vidal “Max” Fortuna. His sentencing in pending. (Stockton Police Department via Bay City News)

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.

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.

Stockton Fire Capt. Vidal “Max” Fortuna was fatally shot Jan. 31, 2022, while responding to a fire behind a business. (Courtesy of Stockton Fire Department)

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.

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.

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.

Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at