A Hemet man who beat and fatally stabbed his 47-year-old girlfriend on a Winchester street pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder and other charges and was immediately sentenced to 18 years to life in state prison.
Jeffrey Michael Kruger, 49, admitted the murder count, as well as a domestic violence charge with a sentence-enhancing weapon allegation, under a plea agreement with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. In exchange for his admissions, a great bodily injury allegation was dropped.
The plea deal was announced just as Kruger’s case was scheduled to go to a preliminary hearing before Superior Court Judge Elaine Kiefer at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
Kiefer certified the terms of the agreement and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense.
The defendant killed Deborah Warner of Temecula on March 31.
According to sheriff’s Sgt. Walter Mendez, Kruger and Warner were involved in a dispute — the nature of which wasn’t clear — near Brookfield Park, at the intersection of Pourroy and Winchester roads, about 3:40 a.m.
During the confrontation, Kruger pulled a knife and stabbed the victim, who fought back, investigators said.
Residents heard the confrontation and called 911, and deputies arrived minutes later, locating both Kruger and Warner lying in the roadway, according to Mendez.
Warner was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. Kruger was taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, including a wound to his face, after which he was booked into jail.
The defendant had no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.