VISTA — A young man accused of stabbing a partygoer multiple times pleaded guilty Dec. 8 as attorneys were on the verge of finalizing the jury panel for his trial.
Matthew Leidle, 19, accepted a plea agreement to a single felony count of attempted voluntary manslaughter in connection with the June 8 stabbing of Rafael Guadarrama at a house party in the 500 block of Palm Drive in Vista.
In accordance with Leidle’s plea, he will receive seven years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 6., Deputy District Attorney Natalie Villaflor said. Leidle had been charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. If convicted by a jury, he faced up to 13 years in prison, the lawyer said.
Villaflor said the offer for a plea agreement came from Leidle and his attorney, Ann Chhokar. Up to that point, she said her office hadn’t made any offers to the defendant.
At the preliminary hearing in July, witnesses said the fight erupted after Guadarrama accidentally broke a discarded aquarium that was laying in the yard.
Guadarrama testified the fight was between only Leidle and himself, and at no time did he ever see a knife. He suffered 11 stab wounds to the left side of his body and spent eight days in the hospital.
During a police interview following the incident, Leidle told authorities he stabbed Guadarrama because he felt threatened. Further, he told police Guadarrama’s girlfriend, who he had dated in middle school, instigated the fight by telling the victim that Leidle had slapped her, according to prior court testimony.
The knife used in the altercation was found a short distance from where the fight occurred, police said.
Leidle was on probation at the time of incident stemming from a residential burglary charge, to which he pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property, a misdemeanor, in April.