A man pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter Wednesday in connection with the death of his housemate in San Francisco’s Mission Terrace neighborhood in 2007, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office said today.
Richard Carelli, 41, agreed to serve six years in prison in a plea deal with prosecutors on Wednesday, district attorney’s spokesman Seth Steward said.
Carelli had been charged with murdering Leonard Milo Hoskins, 49, outside the home they shared on Lamartine Street on Dec. 22, 2007.
Police found Hoskins’ body inside Carelli’s van on Feb. 1, 2008, weeks after Hoskins’ family had reported him missing and eight days after police had impounded the vehicle.
Carelli and his wife, Michelle Pinkerton, were later found in Baja California in Mexico, where they were arrested.
Carelli and Pinkerton already stood trial in the case, but a mistrial was declared in 2009 after a jury acquitted Carelli of first-degree murder but failed to agree on lesser charges.
He was set to go to trial again before agreeing to the plea deal on Wednesday. He will officially be sentenced at a hearing on March 18, Steward said.
Pinkerton, who faced charges of being an accessory to murder, will have the charges against her dropped at the March 18 sentencing, Steward said.
In the first trial, prosecutors had argued that Carelli, who they said had a history of methamphetamine abuse along with Pinkerton, was angry about being evicted from the home and in part blamed Hoskins.
Prosecutors said Carelli confronted Hoskins in the driveway of the home, hit him in the head with a wooden stick, and dragged him inside the couple’s garage in-law unit.
He then allegedly smothered him with a pillow, wrapped the body in a sleeping bag, blankets and duct tape, and hid it in the van, prosecutors said.
Carelli’s defense attorneys claimed the violence was mutual combat and that Hoskins had died of a heart attack brought on by a pre-existing medical condition and his own methamphetamine use as well as adrenaline from the fight.
Partly because of the decomposition of the body, the medical examiner in the case could only rule that the cause of Hoskins’ death was “probable asphyxia with blunt force trauma.”
Steward said the district attorney’s office agreed to the plea deal partly because “the medical examiner’s office could not definitively determine the cause of death.”
He said, though, that he hopes the guilty plea will give solace to Hoskins’ family.
“The defendant has taken responsibility, so hopefully that will give the victim’s family the ability to move forward,” Steward said.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News