BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Delano man who told police he accidentally killed a woman by beating her with a tire iron accepted a plea agreement Monday that spares him a potential life term in prison.
Leonardo Felix, 29, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter for a stipulated sentence of 11 years in prison. Prosecutors are dismissing a charge of first-degree murder, court records show.
Felix faced 25 years to life behind bars if convicted of the murder charge.
In another case, Felix pleaded no contest to a charge of assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. Prosecutors said his time in custody on that case will be served concurrently with his sentence for voluntary manslaughter.
Felix told police he drove Tina Anne Gutierrez, 39, to an almond orchard near Delano in May to drink and have sex. He said he became convinced she was setting him up to be killed by Norteno gang members, and claimed he saw her boyfriend lurking in the orchard.
According to court documents, Felix said he hit Gutierrez “a few” times after she got out of the car, and kept striking her after she fell.
A man riding a horse discovered the body of Gutierrez around 5:30 p.m. May 23 in an orchard in the area of County Line and Melcher roads. She had cuts and fractures to her head and face.
Detectives arrested Felix the next day. Family of Gutierrez said she was last seen getting in his car, and that he had previously threatened her, the documents said.
Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 5.