One of six people charged in the shooting death of an off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty Tuesday to first- degree murder as his trial was about to begin.

Armando “Chivo” Albarran, 32, was immediately sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

Albarran was extradited from Mexico in December 2012 in connection with the Aug. 2, 2008, killing of Juan Abel Escalante, which the prosecution called a “gang-driven crime.” Albarran was sitting in the back of the gunman’s car, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Four others were previously convicted of charges stemming from the murder of the 27-year-old former U.S. Army reservist, who was gunned down as he prepared to leave his parents’ home in the Cypress Park neighborhood of Los Angeles for his morning shift at the Men’s Central Jail. The father of three was not in uniform at the time.

The gunman, Carlos Javier “Stoney” Velasquez, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty in October 2012 to first-degree murder. He also admitted a special circumstance allegation that the murder was carried out to further the activities of a criminal street gang and to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Co-defendant Jose Renteria was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced in March 2013 to life in prison without parole for supplying Velasquez with the handgun used in the killing.

Two other defendants pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter.

Arnoldo Pineda — who was sentenced to 14 years in prison — testified in April 2010 that he was ordered at gunpoint to drive to the Cypress Park neighborhood.

Guillermo Hernandez, who was sitting in the back seat of the car, was sentenced to 21 years in state prison.

A sixth man, Roberto Salazar, is still being sought.

City News Service

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