January 8, 2012 in Region

Man gets 23 years for killing girlfriend


YAKIMA – In the end, Chelsie Stoneking was not pregnant.

But a mistaken belief that she was pregnant apparently contributed to an attack by her on-again, off-again boyfriend that left the 16-year-old dead, an act Yakima County Superior Court Judge Blaine Gibson described as incomprehensible in its savagery.

Gibson sentenced 19-year-old Heriberto Saucedo on Friday to 23 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the Dec. 20, 2009, killing at Stone-king’s Grandview residence.

Stoneking suffered severe head trauma, strangulation and 57 stab wounds.

Gibson said Saucedo’s immaturity and frustration over his struggles in school don’t justify the actions that resulted in the taking of a life.

“For the rest of us, it is an incomprehensible act. To me, it indicates that under the right circumstances, this is a person who can be extremely dangerous,” Gibson said.

Saucedo was 17 at the time of the murder.

In handing down the sentence, Gibson accepted the prosecution’s request for 276 months.

The sentence was the result of a plea agreement that was reached because of prosecutors’ concern about their ability to prove premeditation, said Deputy Prosecutor Gary Hintze.

Paul Kelley, Saucedo’s court-appointed attorney, had urged a sentence of 240 months, the bottom of the standard range.

Kelley outlined Saucedo’s problems – he fell behind in school from an early age because he wasn’t proficient in English and lacked maturity – but said those problems don’t excuse the act.

Saucedo moved to Grandview at age 17 to be with family after he got involved with the wrong crowd at Enumclaw High School, Kelley said.

The slightly built Saucedo haltingly stood to read a brief statement to the court prior to sentencing. Wearing a jail-issued jumpsuit, Saucedo expressed sorrow for the killing.

“I understand what happened was wrong and a mistake that can’t be undone. Her parents will feel the loss of their child for the rest of their lives. I am sorry for the hurt and pain I inflicted,” Saucedo said before turning toward the family in the audience to express his sorrow.

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