A man who used a machete to kill his friend last fall at a home in San Diego’s Rolando community changed his plea to guilty Wednesday.
Vincent Salas Garza, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the grisly slaying of Vicente Carrera.
Garza is accused of hacking up Carrera’s body with a machete on November 5, 2015, after the men got into an argument at a home in the 6800 block of Waite Drive.
Carrera’s lifeless body was discovered the following day among clutter on the back patio of the home, buried beneath clothing and boxes.
One week after the killing, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said detectives had recovered the murder weapon – a machete – and honed in on a suspect.
Shortly thereafter, Garza was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, in connection with the murder. He was extradited to San Diego. He was charged with first-degree murder but the count was changed to second-degree as prosecutors had no reason to believe the murder was premeditated, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney David Mcnees told NBC 7.
Now, with the plea bargain, Garza faces the maximum sentence of 15 years to life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for September 2.
Mcnees said the victim's family was satisfied with the change of plea Wednesday and glad the case will not be prolonged with a trial filled with details of the violent crime.
"It's worth it to have this case over sooner," said Mcnees. "Especially in this case, the injuries were quite gruesome and the autopsy photos and finding out exactly what happened is not something a family should ever have to sit through."
According to police, Garza was a heavy methamphetamine user at the time of the killing. Garza’s family said Garza and Carrera were close friends and ran errands together on the day of the murder.
Residents in the Rolando neighborhood said they had seen many people coming in and out of the home where Carrera’s body was discovered. One neighbor told police he heard screams coming from the house before police arrived.
Mcnees said Carrera's famiy will have an opportunity to address the court during Garza's sentencing hearing this fall, if they choose to do so.