1 sentenced for deadly stabbing at Terra Bella quinceanera in 2013

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- On June 8, 2013, a quinceanera in the small town of Terra Bella became a crime scene.

29-year-old Alex Torres and 40-year-old Luis Mejia Leon showed up uninvited and were approached by those at the party, says Leon's attorney, Sara Bratsch.

"There was a physical altercation between my client and the owner of the property," she said.

She says Torres pulled out a knife and killed 40-year-old Gabriel Alvarado.

"I believe Mr. Torres, the co-defendant, believed my client's life was in jeopardy and used his knife to stab the homeowner," Bratsch said.

The Tulare County District Attorney's Office says evidence was gathered over the next seven years, which ultimately led to charges being filed in 2020. Both men have been in custody since that time as the court case faced pandemic delays.

"It was been eight years but for the life of the case, it was two years," says Tulare County District Attorney David Alavezos.

Leon was sentenced Thursday morning for assault with a deadly weapon.

"My client acknowledged responsibility and pleaded guilty as charged," Bratsch said. "And would like the victim's family to know that he is remorseful and wishes he could take back his participation in the case."

Leon will be released from the Tulare County Pretrial Facility on July 3 of this year and on probation for two years.

Torres was also in court Thursday morning for a change of plea to guilty for voluntary manslaughter.

The court has indicated he could face 12 years in prison on his sentencing date set for May 4.

"The loss of life, you can't quantify it with a number," Alavezos said. "And sometimes, a case ends up in the position of this one where it is settled short of trial, and that's what happened - the defends separately settled."
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