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Plea deal in the works in girl's death



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A plea deal is in the work for one of the people charged in connection with the death of 7-year-old Maria Menchaca.

Frank Benavidez, 21, appeared in court Wednesday and waived his right to a preliminary hearing.

He is charged with aggravated murder, which could end in the death penalty if he is convicted.

His lawyers say he is considering an offer from prosecutors which would likely take the death penalty option of the table if he pleads guilty.

Last week another person involved in the Menchaca murder took a plea deal. Gabriel Alejandro Alvarez, 16, was originally charged with aggravated murder, for which he could have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Now Alvarez will face 16 years to life in prison. His sentencing is set for June 3.

Co-defendant Mae Goodman Johnson, 16, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter in adult court and awaits sentencing.

Prosecutors say the three were involved in the drive-by shooting on July 6, 2008, that killed 7-year-old Maria Del Carmen Menchaca while she was playing in the front yard of her Glendale home.

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