The man who fatally stabbed a Los Angeles-area college student outside a bustling downtown Davis nightspot in September 2015 could spend decades in prison after pleaded no contest Wednesday in Yolo Superior Court to manslaughter and other charges in the killing as a trial date loomed in the case.
Victor Vergara of Vacaville stabbed and killed 23-year-old Peter Alexander Gonzales, of Hacienda Heights, a student at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Carson, Sept. 19, 2015, at Ket Mo Ree, a popular Thai restaurant and bar on 6th Street in downtown Davis. Gonzales was in Davis to attend his sister's wedding and was at the nightclub with members of the wedding party following the rehearsal dinner, according to news reports at the time.
The violent death in Davis' downtown was the latest in a growing list of troubling violence and alcohol-related incidents in the city and prompted shaken city leaders to put a temporary halt to new bar and nightclub construction.
State alcohol officials in February 2016 suspended Ket Mo Ree's liquor license for 30 days and placed the eatery on two years' probation in the wake of Gonzales' death and other violent incidents.
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Vergara, one of six ultimately indicted by a Yolo County grand jury on murder charges in the deadly stabbing, pleaded Wednesday to manslaughter, plus a sentencing enhancement for gang ties, use of a knife along with an assault charge while in Yolo County custody. Another gang enhancement tacked on nearly four more years, according to Yolo County District Attorney's officials. He faces 27 years in state prison at his Jan. 29 sentencing.
Prosecutors had tied Vergara and the others - Carlos Biviescas, Martyn Alex Contreras, Anthony Daniel Rivera, Joseph George Sandeno and Zackary Thomas Sandeno - to a Vacaville gang and said Vergara, an active gang member, killed Gonzales.
The five others also faced charges of assault causing great bodily injury, participating in gang activity and assault while in service to a gang.
Their charges in the bar attack were dismissed with Vergara's plea, but a Yolo County judge will determine Feb. 7 whether Joseph Sandeno and Anthony Rivera receive prison terms or probation after pleading to an assault at Yolo County Jail.