Las Vegas Accused Murderer Pleads Guilty in Death of Model

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Posted on: March 15, 2023, 01:48h. 

Last updated on: March 15, 2023, 01:48h.

A man pleaded guilty on Monday to the abduction and grisly murder of a 24-year-old model whose body was found in the Nevada desert encased in concrete.

Christopher Prestipino, left, Esmeralda Gonzalez, right
Christopher Prestipino, left, pleaded guilty in the murder of Esmeralda Gonzalez, right. Her body was found in the desert. (Images: LVMPD)

The defendant, Christopher Prestipino, 49, will be sentenced on April 25 for first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder charges for the 2019 Las Vegas death of Esmeralda Gonzalez.

His plea was entered in Las Vegas court under the Alford doctrine. That means Prestipino maintains his innocence, but acknowledges prosecutors likely have sufficient evidence for a conviction.

Craig Mueller, the Las Vegas-based criminal defense attorney who represents Prestipino, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal his client agreed to the plea deal because “He didn’t want to risk a life sentence.”

He faces decades in prison during the upcoming sentencing hearing.

The 24-year-old victim had worked in the adult entertainment industry, the Review-Journal reported. She had more than 300,000 followers for her Instagram page.

Gonzalez and Prestipino lived near each other. Gonzalez was seen on surveillance video outside Prestipino’s residence on May 31, 2019. She was dressed in high heels and lingerie, and appeared disoriented, according to the New York Post.  

Prestipino allegedly gave Gonzalez methamphetamine (meth) that night. He reportedly also tied her to a bedpost for an extended period of time. She reportedly struck him at one point when she was awake.

Prestipino allegedly injected her body with pool cleaning chemicals and later strangled her.

Bound Corpse Left in Water Tank

Prestipino then allegedly transported her body in a rented U-Haul truck into the desert. Several months later, on October 8, authorities found her body near Glendale, Nev.

Her hands were tied up, and her head and neck were covered with white tape, People reported. The corpse was covered by blankets. Her body was stuffed in a 250-gallon water tank.

The coroner’s office was unable to identify a precise cause of death. Her identity was confirmed by DNA tests, the Post reported.

Gonzalez was reported missing by her brother. Later, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) detectives received a tip in the case and narrowed in on Prestipino as the suspect.

He fled to the Caribbean island of Belize, then returned to the U.S. He was arrested on February 18, 2021, and continues to be held at the Clark County Detention Center.

Prestipino Reportedly Heard Voices

Shortly after his arrest, his attorney claimed Prestipino was hearing voices and had a diminished memory, according to the Daily Mail. But he was never found incompetent to stand trial.

Prestipino’s former roommate, Casandra Garrett, 43, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the model’s death. She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2.

Prestipino’s one-time girlfriend, Lisa Mort, pleaded guilty to accessory to murder in connection with the case. She was sentenced to between two and five years in prison.

Gonzalez grew up in Mexico. She attended UNLV, People reported.

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