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Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty, Avoids Death Penalty

Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty, Avoids Death Penalty

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- The man charged in an execution-style slaying on Christmas Day has pleaded guilty to capital homicide in a deal that spared him a possible death penalty.

Jose Juan Rodriguez Valle, 32, admitted in court on Monday that he kidnapped, beat and slit the throat of his companion, Luis M. Martinez, 28, after the two of them had consumed vast quantities of alcohol and methamphetamine.

Martinez's body was found near I-84 on the border of Davis and Weber counties. His eyes and nose had been taped shut with duct tape and his hands bound behind him.

Second District Judge Glen Dawson accepted the plea agreement. Prosecutor Mike DiReda said his office is not seeking life in prison without parole, but the agreement calls for Rodriguez Valle to serve at least 20 years in prison before the Board of Pardons looks at his case.

Sentencing was set for Sept. 20.

Both Rodriguez Valley and Martinez, who were in the U.S. illegally, held jobs and were living in Weber County.

Defense attorney James Valdez said Rodriguez was raised by uncles who sexually abused him. He fled home early and lived as a "street urchin" in Mexico, fending off physical and sexual abuse, Valdez said.

As a child of the streets, Rodriguez Valle sniffed glue and consumed meth, often was victimized by others including being beaten to the point of unconsciousness, One medical professional in the United States suggested Rodriguez Valle may have suffered damage to the frontal lobe of his brain which governs impulse control, Valdez said. Rodriguez Valle also may be suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome from a lifetime of abuse.

On the day of the slaying, Rodriguez Valle had passed out, and when he regained consciousness, he "found himself in (a) compromising situation with the victim," Valdez said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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