Accused murderer Freddy Tellez admitted last week in Blaine County 5th District Court that he deliberately killed a 16-year-old Wood River High School student last summer in Hailey by repeatedly striking her on the head with a hammer.
Seventeen-year-old Tellez pleaded guilty Friday morning to second-degree murder, a crime that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.
The guilty plea was in accord with a plea agreement with the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, which will recommend at sentencing that the defendant serve a fixed term of 30 years behind bars with an indeterminate sentence of up to life in prison.
Tellez admitted his guilt to District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee, who advised the defendant that he is not bound by the recommendation of the prosecuting attorney's office. Elgee scheduled sentencing for May 30 at 9 a.m.
Tellez acknowledged that he killed his former girlfriend Margarita Guardado around 2 a.m. on Aug. 17, 2007, in the street in front of her home in the Woodside area of Hailey. No mention was made during Friday's "change of plea hearing" about an allegation that Tellez also dumped a flammable liquid on Guardado's body and lit her on fire.
Her charred body was found around 7:30 a.m. that morning near a dumpster across the street from her home on Mountain Ash drive.
Tellez was earlier charged with first-degree murder in a Blaine County grand jury indictment.
Court records indicate that Guardado had been Tellez' girlfriend and investigators believe that he killed her out of jealousy. Evidence in the case suggests that Guardado had gone on a camping trip to Redfish Lake with a 26-year-old Hailey man on the weekend before she was killed.
Hailey Police Chief Jeff Gunter said Monday that he was not surprised by the guilty plea. He said a strong case had been built against the defendant through a thorough investigation conducted by his department, the Blaine County Sheriff's Office and Idaho State Police. Gunter said some 200 people were interviewed following the discovery of Guardado's body, and the intensive investigation led to Tellez's arrest on Aug. 18.
Gunter said the case is close to him personally because he is a good friend of Guardado's mother, Maria Mares, a longtime employee of the city of Hailey.
"She's still pretty much in the grieving process," Gunter said. "She hasn't been the same since it happened.
"One thing I'm grateful for is she's not going to have to sit through three to four weeks of a trial," he said "If she doesn't have to sit through the whole thing again, maybe she'll get to closure a little sooner.
"She's having a hard time, but she still has three young daughters at home and that's all the reason she needs to be moving on."