An 18-year-old man pleaded guilty Thursday to voluntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of a restaurant co-worker at the victim’s South Bay home last spring.
Joe Andrew Cortez faces up to six years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 5.
Cortez killed 44-year-old Rene Pressa early on April 23, according to Chula Vista police. The defendant intended to spend the night at Pressa’s residence in a mixed-use office building on Third Avenue, but at some point the two men began fighting, police said.
Cortez had begun working four days earlier at the same restaurant where Pressa worked, according to investigators.
Cortez was apparently injured during the altercation and left a blood trail leading away from Pressa’s apartment, said Chula Vista police Lt. Fritz Reber.
The suspect is believed to have walked, barefoot and clad in shorts and a black tank top, more than eight miles to the U.S.-Mexico border before crossing into Baja California and returning home to Tijuana, the lieutenant said.
Police and U.S. Marshals Service personnel initially coordinated with Mexican authorities to arrest Cortez at his parents’ home in Tijuana, but he had fled by the time officers arrived.
Cortez turned himself in April 30 at the San Ysidro port of entry, Reber said.
— City News Service
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