A man who shot his girlfriend in Alpine last year pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder and is facing 40 years to life in state prison.

A July 30 sentencing date is set for Paul Alan Paraschak, who killed 27-year-old Melanie Benitez on Feb. 23, 2019.

In addition to second-degree murder, the 44-year-old defendant admitted an allegation of discharging a firearm causing death, according to Deputy District Attorney Jessica Lees.

While San Diego County courts remain closed to the general public to all but emergency matters, Paraschak’s change of plea hearing was conducted Friday morning in an El Cajon courtroom via video conferencing.

Prosecutors have not disclosed a motive for the slaying.

Deputies responding to reports of gunfire found Benitez mortally wounded near a parked vehicle in the 2800 block of Victoria Drive in Alpine shortly before 2:30 p.m. Medics pronounced her dead at the scene.

Patrol personnel found Paraschak walking in the area and took him into custody without incident. The suspect was carrying two handguns at the time, sheriff’s Lt. Rich Williams said last year.

Shortly after his arrest, Paraschak swore to his innocence in a jail interview with Fox 5.

“I know I’m innocent,” he said, telling a reporter he was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and did not remember anything from the incident.

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