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Santa Maria man accused of killing Army soldier pleads no contest to manslaughter
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Santa Maria man accused of killing Army soldier pleads no contest to manslaughter

From the What you need to know for Wednesday, December 2 series
  • Updated

A Santa Maria man has pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of Army soldier Marlon Brumfield in September 2019. 

Francisco Gutierrez-Ortega, 25, pleaded no contest on Oct. 9 to the charge in the killing of Brumfield, 22, of Lompoc, according to Santa Barbara County Superior Court records. 

Gutierrez-Ortega, who turned himself in more than a week after the shooting, originally pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder on Oct. 17, 2019, although that charge was dismissed as part of a plea deal, according to Deputy Public Defender Erica Sutherland, Gutierrez-Ortega's attorney. 

Additionally, Gutierrez-Ortega faced two enhancements, committing the crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang and using a firearm to cause great bodily injury, although those also were dismissed. 

Gutierrez-Ortega, who pleaded no contest under Superior Court Judge Raimundo Montes de Oca, agreed to an Arbuckle waiver, which allows a different judge to sentence him. 

101719 Ortega court

Francisco Gutierrez-Ortega, right, sits next to his attorney, Brian Carroll, during a brief appearance on Oct. 17, 2019, in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Lompoc. 

He is scheduled for a court hearing at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 29 in Department 1 of Superior Court in Lompoc, where Montes de Oca is expected to set a sentencing date, according to Sutherland.

Brumfield was stationed in Germany and visiting home on leave when he was shot and killed in the early morning of Sept. 8, 2019, near the intersection of North A Street and East Ocean Avenue, according to Lompoc Police. 

A second suspect, 26-year-old Walter Morales, of Lompoc, was arrested in connection to the killing on July 17, following a seven-hour standoff with police in the 1500 block of South Thornburg Street, after nearly a year on the run.

Morales pleaded not guilty to several charges, including murder, attempted murder and several enhancements on Aug. 6. 

He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing setting at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 8 in Department 1 of Superior Court in Lompoc. 

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