LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — No plea deal was reached between an accused killer and prosecutors Wednesday, forcing a jury trial for Christopher Prestipino to begin Monday.
On Tuesday, Prestipino, 49, told Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny that he was open to negotiations. By Wednesday, no deal was reached.
Prestipino is charged with murder and kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping. Prestipino also blamed the murder on his former co-defendant.
“I’m open to negotiations but the negotiations are giving the killer better than a deal and we have proof and statements that say that she said she did it,” he said.
Prestipino is accused of killing 24-year-old Esmeralda Gonzales in 2019. He gave the woman the illegal drug methamphetamine, tied her up and strangled her, according to Metro police.
Prestipino and his roommate, Casandra Garrett, then injected Gonzales with pool cleaner, police said. The woman’s body was later found in cement in a desert area.
Garrett took a plea deal, according to court records. An amended indictment reveals a charge for voluntary manslaughter with the use of a deadly weapon. Garrett, 43, remains in the Clark County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28.
In a five-page letter to the judge, Garrett wrote that she struggled with drug addiction, accepts responsibility for the charges of which she is guilty and agonizes over what she could have or should have done. She does not directly admit to killing Gonzales in the letter.
Prestipino’s girlfriend, Lisa Mort, also agreed to a plea deal in 2020 on a charge of accessory to the murder. Mort was sentenced 24-60 months and given 151 days credit for time served, according to the Nevada Department of Corrections. She was sent to prison in April 2020, released on parole in December of that year and then discharged from NDOC entirely in February 2022.
Prestipino told Kierny that he does not feel ready for trial because of a lack of communication with his attorney Craig Mueller. Mueller told Judge Kierny that they are ready for trial.
“I’m very comfortable with the facts of the case,” Mueller said.