Man pleads guilty in murder of 7-year-old girl

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A man pleaded guilty in connection with a drive-by shooting that left a 7-year-old dead. On Friday, Frank Puga Benavidez, 22, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder.

Benavidez drove the SUV that pulled up in front of Maria Menchacha's Glendale home on July 6, 2008. Benavidez, along with Gabriel Alvarez and Mae Johnson, was there to confront Menchaca's cousin about a fight that had happened earlier in the day.

Menchaca was shot and killed while playing in her front yard. Prosecutors said she was not the intended target.

Benavidez took a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. He faces up to life in prison when he's sentenced on March 19.

Gabriel Alvarez is already serving 16 years to life in prison in connection with the shooting.

Mae Johnson, 17, also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

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