Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Plea Bargain In Arizona Gay Man's Death

YUMA (Observer Update) - The mother of Amancio Corrales broke down in tears as the man accused of stabbing him in 2005 pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in a deal with prosecutors.

“He didn’t kill a person but a whole family. I don’t agree [with this plea],” Maribel Corrales told the court through an interpreter. “It is not fair.”

Solorio Valenzuela originally was charged with second-degree murder, but a grand jury later indicted him on a charges of manslaughter and abandoning a body.

If the plea deal is accepted by Judge Andrew Gould, Valenzuela would be sentenced to less than nine years in prison. He would be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence before being eligible for release.

Valenzuela also could be ordered to pay restitution of $150,000.

The body of Amancio Corrales, 23, was found in the Colorado River on May 6, 2005. He had been stabbed numerous times.

Corrales was a well known drag performer in Yuma and in Mexico, performing under the name Delilah. He was was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, and worked as a cosmetologist in Yuma.

Corrales was seen the night of his slaying at several bars in Yuma in drag.

In agreeing to the plea deal prosecutor Levi Gunderson told the court that Valenzuela had not planned to murder Corrales, but acted in the “heat of passion” out of “rage and humiliation” when he discovered Corrales was a male.

If Judge Gould accepts the plea bargain, Valenzuela will be sentenced on Aug. 21.

The killing sent shockwaves through Yuma’s relatively small and close knit gay community and became a rallying cause for gay-rights advocates throughout Arizona.

Many believed that Corrales was the victim of a hate crime, although investigators refused to label it as such.

To read about the case go here and here.

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