A 58-year-old man — acquitted last month of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend 23 years ago in Anaheim — pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Friday and was sentenced to time served since his arrest in 2015.

John Andrew Augustin pleaded guilty to a count of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to four years in prison, but he had credit for serving 4,236 days in jail.

Jurors on Oct. 21 deadlocked 9-3 for conviction on involuntary manslaughter. Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard King last month ordered Augustin, who was being held on $1,010,000 bail, released from custody.

Augustin confessed to killing 41-year-old hairdresser Irene Margaret Ruelaz on April 18, 1998.

The victim’s mother and daughter went to her apartment at 1871 W. Ball Road on May 3, 1998, and encountered a foul smell, so they called police, who found her body in the closet, according to court records.

Her body was found face-down with all of the clothes in her closet on top of her, prosecutors said when Augustin was indicted for murder in January 2016.

The victim was dead for several days when her body was found, former prosecutor Larry Yellin, who is now an Orange County Superior Court judge, told City News Service in 2016. She had last been seen alive about two weeks earlier.

Augustin’s attorneys argued in court papers that her cause of death was initially determined to be acute accidental alcohol poisoning. But another review, in May of 2004, ruled the cause of death undetermined.

After Ruelaz’s body was found, police went to interview Augustin at a hospital in West Los Angeles, where he was recuperating after jumping off a bridge in Culver City April 23, 1998, according to the defendant’s attorneys.

A DNA match on a beer bottle found in the victim’s Cadillac prompted prosecutors to file a murder charge in 2015, his attorneys said. But Augustin told police he had used his girlfriend’s car occasionally, his attorneys said.

Ruelaz’s sister, Lillian Florido, said Augustin “terrorized my sister, and we knew he killed her from the day Margaret’s body was found. He should have been prosecuted 23 years ago. If he had been, the jury would have heard that in the hours after he murdered her he showed up in a panic at the house of a best friend and told his friend what he’d done. But that friend and other important witnesses have died, so the jury couldn’t hear some of the most important evidence that could have led them to convict Augustin of murder. That’s the worst part about this. That if law enforcement had treated and investigated this case seriously from the beginning, John Augustin might have been held fully accountable.”

Florido added that her family felt “some consolation knowing that he finally acknowledged that he killed her, even if only by pleading guilty to manslaughter.”

Florido said the defendant attempted suicide in the Orange County Jail while awaiting trial and ended up paralyzed as a result.

“Instead, his harshest punishment for killing Margaret was the harm he did to himself,” she said. “That’s a scar he’ll carry forever.”

Florido said her family “misses Margaret every day… She was kind and quirky and beautiful. She was an amazing hairdresser. A violent man ended her life too soon, but she’s still in our hearts and in our memories, and she will be forever.”

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