FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A Fresno man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of a teenager who stole his marijuana.
A jury acquitted Ernie Chanmany of first-degree murder charges at a trial two years ago. Chanmany beat the murder rap once before but decided not to risk a second trial.
"I think it's the right choice for everybody," Chanmany's attorney Eric Green said.
Green said that even though a jury couldn't agree to convict him of first-degree murder in 2014, another trial on second-degree murder charges could have been risky.
"You never know what's going to happen if you roll the dice even though we had a good outcome on the first trial," he said. "They got a new DA, perhaps a different perspective in how they would try it. Plus, they've had a bite at the apple and so they might get better at it.
Chanmany admits he was there when 16-year-old Sammy Mercado was shot, but denies pulling the trigger.
Mercado and his buddies were reportedly stealing marijuana plants. Chanmany claimed two other men, Michael and Marshall Moravong, were guarding the plants and responsible for the shooting.
Chanmany admitted to helping bury Mercado's body.
After being arrested on drug charges six months later Chanmany lead deputies to Mercado's grave.
Charges against the Moravong brothers were dropped for lack of evidence, and, by accepting the deal, Chanmany avoids a potential life prison term.
"In this case, he's got a determinate sentence and he knows he is going to get 11 years for everything unless his time credits," Green said.
With the 4 years already served, Chanmany, who is in his mid-20s, could be free in just about 5 years.
Sammy Mercado's brother Felipe told Action News that the length of the sentence is not important to them because nothing will bring Sammy back.
The family hopes all involved in Sammy's death will be brought to justice.