SALT LAKE CITY — A teenager charged with murder in the death of a Kearns High School classmate pleaded guilty to reduced charges Wednesday and avoided an upcoming trial.
Ricky Angilau, 19, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the 2009 shooting death of Esteban Saidi, 16. Additional charges of obstruction of justice, carrying a concealed weapon, both second-degree felonies, and possession of a firearm on school premises, a class A misdemeanor, were dismissed in exchange for Angilau's plea.
Angilau was just 16 when the shooting occurred after a fistfight between two Kearns High students on Jan. 21, 2009. Witnesses testified that Angilau had taken a gun to school and fired it into the air after the fight, causing a crowd that had gathered to flee. Two additional shots were fired in the direction of the crowd, but witnesses said they were aimed more up in the air than at any specific person. Still, Saidi was hit and killed.
Angilau was ordered to stand trial for murder, a first-degree felony, and a trial was scheduled for August. Defense attorney Ron Yengich said, however, that he had been working with prosecutors and was offered a plea bargain.
"I never thought this was a murder case," he said. "I always felt that it was overcharged, particularly given his youth and the fact that it started out with him as a juvenile. But there's no question somebody got killed and he was the person who had a gun in their hand."
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors will ask that the manslaughter be reduced to a third-degree felony when Angilau is sentenced Aug. 17. Third-degree felonies carry a maximum sentence of zero to five years in prison, and Angilau has already spent about three years in custody.
As part of the agreement, Yengich said he will not ask that the judge give Angilau credit for the time he has served, but he can ask the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole to do so.
"It's taken a long time to get resolved because there's just been a disagreement between me and the prosecutor, but we worked it out and I think it's a fair resolution," Yengich said.