A Salinas man on Wednesday agreed to plead guilty to first degree murder and serve at least 26 years in prison for the stabbing death of a security guard last year, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office. Richard Gutierrez, 23, entered the guilty plea in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas in a deal with prosecutors in which he waived any right to appeal his first-degree murder conviction, Deputy District Attorney Rolando Mazariegos said.
On August 1, 2013, at 5:12 p.m., Gutierrez entered the 99 Cent Store on Laurel Drive in Salinas and confronted 57-year-old Victor Sosa, a security guard at the store, prosecutors said. Gutierrez attacked Sosa, stabbing him repeatedly, and customers in the store pelted the assailant with canned goods for about 20 seconds, Mazariegos said. Gutierrez then took off his shirt and “made a display of himself” before attempting to flee the store, but Salinas police took him into custody less than 15 seconds later, the prosecutor said.
Officers recognized Gutierrez right away due to the guard’s blood that was smeared on him, Mazariegos said. Someone in the store, which is near the Police Department, had called 911 during the attack and the area where the business is located is heavily patrolled by officers, he said. Sosa died a short time later from multiple stab wounds, according to the district attorney’s office.
Prosecutors had a difficult time determining what Gutierrez’s motive was, but “it appears to be robbery,” Mazariegos said. The defendant will be sentenced on Nov. 19 to 26 years to life in prison and must serve the full 26 years as part of the plea agreement, he said. Gutierrez accepted the deal in order to avoid facing additional special circumstances charges that could carry a sentence of life without the possibility of parole or death, he said.
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