The last of the three teenagers charged in connection to the murder of a taxi cab driver nearly two years ago pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter in Yuma County Superior Court on Thursday.
Accompanied by attorney Bill Fox of the Yuma County Legal Defender’s Office, the now 19-year-old Hailey Dawn Hoover replied “guilty” when asked by Yuma County Superior Court Roger how she pleaded to the charge.
Hoover had initially been charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy, theft of means of transportation, and armed robbery in the shooting death of cab driver Guillermo Sotelo, 55, of San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., Mexico.
In return for her guilty plea, those charges against her were dismissed. Seventeen years old at the time of the shooting, she has been in custody at the Yuma County jail on a $500,000 cash-only bond.
During the hearing, Judge Nelson asked Hoover a series of questions as he took her through the plea agreement, making sure she understood what was happening.
He also informed her that the manslaughter plea carried a sentence of seven to 21 years in prison, with the presumptive sentence being 10-1/2 years. Probation is not available.
The plea agreement, Judge Nelson continued, did contain a stipulation that she be sentenced to a prison term of 12½ years, with credit for the time she has already served while in custody.
Judge Nelson then advised Hoover that the stipulation was not binding on the court. However, if the court decides to impose a sentence other than what is contained in the stipulation, she would have an opportunity to withdraw from the plea.
Sentencing has been scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on June 24.
Sotelo, who was a driver for Crazy 8’s Taxi Company, was reported missing early in the morning of July 30, 2018, to the Yuma Police Department. He was driving a turquoise 2001 Honda taxi, and was last believed to be en-route to Somerton to pick up a passenger.
His body was found the next day lying a short distance off the roadway in the desert, shot at least once.
The taxi, which had a flat tire, was found at about 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 7 in an alley near 28th Street and Avenue A in Yuma.
Somerton police reported that they discovered information leading to the identification of two suspects, Hoover, was 17 years old at the time, and 16-year-old Tyrus Nathan Twist.
A few days later, Cocopah Tribal Police, acting on an attempt to locate order issued by Somerton police, found a stolen vehicle that the suspects were believed to be driving.
When officers attempted to stop the vehicle, Twist and Hoover fled.
After a short pursuit by Somerton and Cocopah Police Departments into Somerton, Twist and Hoover were taken into custody without incident.
Twist was sentenced to a combined 37-1/2 years in prison, with credit for 551 days he has already served in February, The third person involved, Jada Herrera, who arranged the cab ride, but did not know the murder was going to happen, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison, with credit for 469 days previously served in January.