- Associated Press - Monday, July 18, 2016

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - A Camp Verde man was sentenced Monday to more than 11 years in federal prison in the death of an acquaintance whose body was dismembered and burned.

The sentence came months after U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa rejected a previous plea agreement that called for Mario Chagolla Jr. to spend 10 years behind bars, saying it was too lenient. This time around, she accepted his plea to voluntary manslaughter that carried a sentence of 10 to 15 years.

Chagolla will get credit for the three years he has served, said his attorney, James Belanger. Chagolla will be in his mid-40s when his sentence ends.

Chagolla expressed remorse for the 2013 killing of Dwayne Beauty at a home on the Yavapai-Apache reservation near Camp Verde. According to court documents, he and Beauty had tussled before. Both were drunk during a card game when Beauty swung a beer bottle and a pencil at Chagolla, and he reacted by stabbing Beauty in the neck with a knife, Belanger wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Chagolla wrote to Humetewa earlier this month, saying he did not intend to kill Beauty but accepted responsibility. He said the root of many of his problems has been drugs and alcohol.

“I am not a bad person. I have a good heart and soul,” Chagolla wrote. “I never saw myself as a threat to the community, but I accept the fact that under the influence of alcohol, I can be.”

Prosecutors have said taking the case to trial would have been difficult, given the inconsistencies in witness statements and the lack of physical evidence against Chagolla.

At least two others witnessed Beauty’s killing but failed to report it to police. Theodore Gia and Larry Telese ultimately pleaded guilty to helping conceal the crime by cleaning up the blood and helping Chagolla dispose of Beauty’s remains, respectively. Some of those remains were found in a woodstove, while others were in a garbage can.

Authorities learned about the killing when Chagolla’s father told them he thought his son was involved in a homicide after seeing what appeared to be human skeletal remains in a barrel outside his home, according to court documents.

Telese also was scheduled to be sentenced Monday. Federal prosecutors did not immediately respond to requests for information, and the federal courts website had not been updated. Telese faced up to three years.

Gia faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine as part of an agreement with prosecutors. Humetewa has not decided whether to accept the deal.

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