Plea deal sends Munoz to prison in killing

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 24, 2000

After reaching a plea agreement, an illegal alien was sentenced Wednesday to more than 20 years in prison for the stabbing death of another illegal alien a year ago in Austin.

Thursday, August 24, 2000

After reaching a plea agreement, an illegal alien was sentenced Wednesday to more than 20 years in prison for the stabbing death of another illegal alien a year ago in Austin.

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Mower County Third Judicial District Judge Donald E. Rysavy accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Angelito Doroteo Munoz, 22, to 250 months in prison. With credit for time served in the Mower County Jail, Munoz will serve a maximum of 19 years behind bars and a minimum of 13 years.

While Mower County Attorney Patrick A. Oman agreed to the plea bargain, which saw first-degree murder charges reduced to third-degree murder, the judge accepted Oman’s recommendation for an upward departure from state sentencing guidelines. The upward departure of an additional 100 months also had been agreed to by Munoz and his attorneys, Joseph Bueltel and Evan Larson.

Munoz will be deported to Mexico when his prison sentence is completed. He was transported to the state correctional facility at St. Cloud after court proceedings ended late Wednesday afternoon.

Munoz was arrested after the June 13, 1999, stabbing death of Jose Luis Castillo, 21, at a house located at 104 Third Ave. SE.

An argument broke out between the two men in the presence of Castillo’s brother, Guillermo, and a nephew, Jose Prisco Castillo. Both saw Munoz go into the house, retrieve a knife and return to the front porch where he thrust it twice into the chest of the victim.

The defendant was captured a day later hiding in a southwest Austin garage and taken into custody.

Unable to speak or understand English, Munoz has required the services of a court interpreter throughout his 14 months in jail and during Wednesday’s court proceedings.

Originally charged with second-degree murder, a Mower County grand jury returned an indictment at the request of the county attorney for first-degree murder.

Munoz also will be expected to make restitution in the amount of $7,000 to the family of the victim.

Munoz is the American name of the illegal alien who came to Austin to work at Quality Pork Processors Inc. His real name is Marcial Rodriguez Lopes.

The victim’s brother, Guillermo, and his nephew, Jose Prisco Castillo, watched Wednesday’s proceedings from a bench behind both the defense table where the defendant sat and behind Oman’s table. A court interpreter translated the proceedings for the pair.

Munoz appeared in court clean-shaven, looking thinner than previous court appearances and acknowledged relatives and friends sitting on the opposite side of the courtroom from the Castillo relatives.

Bueltel said Munoz was willing to agree to the upward departure from sentencing guidelines.

Munoz and the stabbing victim comes from the same village in Mexico and their families are acquainted. He has a sixth-grade education and is single.

At Rysavy’s direction, Bueltel went through a lengthy question-and-answer session with the defendant, concerning the crime he is accused of committing and the plea negotiations. First stated in English, the questions and Munoz’s responses were repeated in Spanish.

He made a statement to the court expressing his regret over his actions a year ago.

"I want to apologize for all the things that happened," he said in part. "I hope they understand it was a moment when I lost my mind."

He concluded his statement saying, "I hope you will forgive me. That’s all. Thanks."

The prosecutor called the crime and its aftermath a "tragedy at so many levels."

The only victim impact statement of any kind came from the victim’s brother, Guillermo, who through a translator said he wanted Munoz to be sentenced according to the law and to be made to serve out that sentence.

Oman told the court that Guillermo Castillo "believes the defendant or the defendant’s family could pay somebody some money and he would be able to walk free."

"I hope he understands that does not happen here," Oman said.