Cold Case San Diego
Dennis Lepage in a new York courtroom before his extradition to San Diego. Photo credit: Screenshot,

A former Navy man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 1975 death of a San Diego serviceman was sentenced Tuesday to five years to life in state prison. However, due to changes in sentencing law, he’s expected to receive a six-year prison term later.

Dennis Lepage, 64, was sentenced for strangling 28-year-old Alvaro Marquez Espeleta on Dec. 31, 1975, at the victim’s Reynard Way home.

Espeleta’s nude body was found in the bedroom of his home by co-workers, who went to check on the naval dental technician after he failed to show up for work at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

According to preliminary hearing testimony, Lepage was also in the Navy and stationed in San Diego at the time of Espeleta’s killing.

Per sentencing laws from 1975, Lepage received the five-to-life term, but the Board of Parole Hearings will be redirected to re-compute his sentence to six years to reflect sentencing laws from 1976, prosecutors said.

Authorities connected Lepage to the killing through fingerprints, and a palm print discovered on the victim’s body. Additional fingerprints were found in the victim’s bathroom and on a beer bottle inside his home.

According to testimony, Lepage’s fingerprints were on file due to a 2010 restraining order violation arrest in Massachusetts. He was arrested last year in Troy, New York.

City News Service contributed to this article.