ALAMOSA — Cristo Esquibel, 37, pleaded guilty on Monday to felony conspiracy to commit first-degree assault for his part in the June 23, 2016 death of Dale Floyd McBride, 52.
District Judge Michael Gonzales accepted the plea and scheduled sentencing for December 21, the same day he will be sentencing Devin Cooper, another co-defendant in the McBride case.
Esquibel’s plea is a “plea of convenience,” Judge Gonzales explained, meaning that the charge to which he pleaded did not necessarily reflect his exact crime, but he was pleading to the charge to take advantage of a better outcome than he might have had if he had gone to trial on his original charge. The judge vacated Esquibel’s trial, which was scheduled to begin January 8.
Esquibel had originally been charged with felony first-degree assault. He was present when Lonnie Cooper shot McBride last summer, and the bullet ricocheted and took out one of Esquibel’s eyes. (Lonnie Cooper has pleaded and been sentenced in the case.)
As part of the plea agreement, defense and prosecuting attorneys agreed to seek a range of sentencing for Esquibel between 5-7 years in the Department of Corrections. Judge Gonzales told Esquibel if for some reason he decided not to go along with that sentencing range Esquibel could withdraw his plea at that point.
Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig told the judge the victim’s mother wanted the maximum sentence possible “because she will never get her son back,” and he did not believe there was a sentencing range he could ask for that she would be happy with. However, he added that he believed she understood the plea agreement.
Judge Gonzales advised Esquibel that the charge to which he was pleading guilty also carried with it the aggravators of crime of violence and extraordinary risk crime. Those require at least five years in prison with a maximum of 16 years, the judge added, but in this case the parties had agreed to a range of 5-7 years.
Esquibel also faces sentencing for two other cases, and the attorneys have agreed that the maximum sentence they would be requesting from Judge Gonzales on those cases would be three years. If Judge Gonzales sentences Esquibel to three years on those cases and seven years on the McBride case, Esquibel could be looking at 10 years in prison, the judge advised him on Monday.
The judge will sentence Esquibel on all three cases on December 21. Esquibel remains in custody.