Sentencing delayed in outdoor party killing
A man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a killing at an outdoor party near Yuma will have to wait to find out what sentence he faces.
Charles D. Becks, 26, was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday, but Yuma County Superior Court Judge Thomas Thode continued the sentencing until Feb. 24.
The postponement came after James Metcalf, Becks' attorney, asked for more time to determine if he would need a mitigation hearing.
Becks pleaded guilty last month to a charge of manslaughter in a plea agreement, in which charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault were dismissed.
Becks faces a prison term of seven to 21 years. One of the conditions of the plea agreement is he must serve time in prison.
Becks was arrested by Yuma County sheriff's deputies in the death of Christopher Brown, a 28-year-old Yuma man who was stabbed during an outdoor party near County 12. Street between Avenue D and Somerton Avenue on Jan. 4, 2003.
A sheriff's office investigation showed Brown was stabbed by Becks at about 1:30 a.m. as the party was breaking up. Earlier in the night, Brown had made racially motivated comments, according to witnesses. Brown was Caucasian and Becks is African-American.
Deputies reported the stabbing occurred after Brown tried to keep car keys away from a friend whom Brown thought was too drunk to drive. Becks interfered, prompting a fight during which Brown was stabbed in the chest and back. Comments made by Brown earlier during the party are believed to have led to the fight in which he was stabbed.
The case against a second defendant, San Benito Martinez Salinas, 29, is pending. Salinas is charged with first-degree murder and hindering prosecution. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Salinas is alleged to be an accomplice to the killing.
The next scheduled hearing for Salinas is Feb. 20.