Burning Car Defendent Pleads Guilty to Homicide

According to San Diego 10 News, prosecutors allege that Garcia-Puente, then 50, murdered Gonzalez during the end of October. Garcia-Puente told police that he pushed Gonzalez and she hit her head on furniture and died.

Gonzalez’s car was found in the UCSD parking lot around 9:20 p.m. Firefighters discovered the victim’s body after extinguishing the flames; an autopsy determined that she was a victim of homicide, as two of Gonzalez’s teeth were found in her throat and her neck was fractured.

Mexican law enforcement arrested Garcia-Puente on Nov. 5, 2010 in the Otay neighborhood of Tijuana. He was subsequently turned over at the San Ysidro point of entry to the San Diego Police Department in connection to the murder of the 38-year-old Gonzalez.

At a preliminary hearing on March 30, 2011, medical evidence revealed that Gonzalez’s neck had been broken at three different points, indicating that she had suffered a strike to the face and died from strangulation.

The autopsy also showed that Gonzalez had suffered blunt-force trauma in the abdomen and the back of her neck.

According to the “Man Pleads Guilty,” published Nov. 18 by NBC San Diego, Garcia-Puente told investigators that his wife’s death was an accident.

He said that he had confronted Gonzalez after suspecting her of having an affair. He confronted her, pushing her and causing fatal damage. Garcia-Puente said that, at this point, he began to panic, and decided to wrap her body in a blanket, which he put in a car that he then set on fire.

Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney told NBC San Diego that Gonzalez’s pastor knew the couple was having marital problems.

According to Rooney, the victim’s family agreed to the plea agreement.

“They felt comfortable with this being labeled an intentional killing,” Rooney said.

The San Diego Police Department, not the UCSD police, was given control over the case because it involved a suspected homicide.
Garcia-Puente is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 20. He will receive anywhere from 16 years and four months to life in prison.

Had Garcia-Puente been found convicted by verdict of a jury or judge instead of pleading guilty, he could have received 25 years to life in prison.

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