Teen accepts plea offer for role in slaying of taxi driver

According to Yuma County Superior Court records, a plea agreement has been reached in the case of one of the three teenagers charged in connection to the murder of a taxi cab driver nearly two years ago during what was intended to be a robbery.

On Monday, Tyrus Nathan Twist pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed robbery with a deadly weapon in a plea offer from prosecutors in the shooting death of 55-year-old Guillermo Sotelo of San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., Mexico.

In return for his guilty pleas, charges of first-degree premeditated murder, conspiracy, theft of means of transportation and armed robbery with a deadly weapon against him were dismissed.

While the second-degree murder charge carries a prison sentencing ranging from 10 years to 25 years, with the presumptive sentence being 16 years, Twist’s plea offer stipulates that he receive the maximum sentence of 25 years.

As for the armed robbery charge, the plea offer stipulates that Twist be given a 12-1/2 year sentence. The prison sentences are also to be served consecutively - meaning he must finish serving one term before he can begin serving another.

Superior Court Judge Brandon Kinsey scheduled sentencing for 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 3.

Sotelo, who was a driver for Crazy 8’s Taxi Company, was reported missing early in the morning July 30. He was last believed to be en route to Somerton to pick up a passenger. He was driving a turquoise 2001 Honda taxi.

His body was found the following day. He had been shot at least once. The taxi, which had a flat tire, was found at around 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 7 in an alley near 28th Street and Avenue A in Yuma.

According to Somerton police, information was developed during the investigation that led to the identification of two suspects, Twist and Hailey Dawn Hoover, and that evidence linked them both to the crime.

A few days later, Cocopah Tribal Police found a stolen vehicle that the suspects were believed to be driving. When officers attempted to stop the vehicle, Twist and Hoover fled, police said.

After a short pursuit by Somerton and Cocopah police into Somerton, Twist and Hoover were taken into custody without incident.

A third suspect, Jada Herrera, was later arrested and charged in connection to the case. Herrera, who arranged the cab ride, but did not know the murder was going to happen, has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison with credit for 469 days previously served.

Hoover, who remains in custody at the Yuma County jail on a $500,000 cash-only bond, has a change-of-plea or trial setting hearing scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 9.

James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.

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