Accused Las Vegas killer blames co-defendant, both injected woman with pool cleaner, police say

Accused Las Vegas killer blames co-defendant, both injected woman with pool cleaner, police say

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Christopher Prestipino, 49, appears in court Tuesday

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — An accused killer told a judge that he is open to a plea deal as he also blamed the murder on his former co-defendant.

Christopher Prestipino, 49, is charged with murder and kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping. He appeared in Clark County District Court on Tuesday.

“I’m open to negotiations but the negotiations are giving the killer better than a deal and we have proof and statements that say that she said she did it,” Prestipino told Judge Carli Kierny.

Prestipino is accused of killing 24-year-old Esmeralda Gonzales in 2019. He gave the woman the illegal drug methamphetamine, tied her up, and strangled her, according to Las Vegas Metro police.

Prestipino and his roommate, Casandra Garrett, then injected Gonzales with pool cleaner, police said. The woman’s body was later found in cement in a desert area.

Garrett took a plea deal, according to court records. An amended indictment reveals a charge for voluntary manslaughter with the use of a deadly weapon. Garrett, 43, remains in the Clark County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28.

In a five-page letter to the judge, Garrett wrote that she struggled with drug addiction, accepts responsibility for the charges of which she is guilty, and agonizes over what she could have or should have done. She does not directly admit to killing Gonzales in the letter.

Prestipino’s girlfriend, Lisa Mort, also agreed to a plea deal in 2020. She pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the murder. Mort was sentenced 24-60 months and given 151 days credit for time served, according to the Nevada Department of Corrections. She was sent to prison in April 2020, released on parole in December of that year and then discharged from NDOC entirely in February 2022.

Prestipino told Kierny that he does not feel ready for trial because of a lack of communication with his attorney Craig Mueller. Mueller told Judge Kierny that they are ready for trial.

“I’m very comfortable with the facts of the case,” Mueller said.

Mueller said that he would try to work with prosecutors to try to reach a plea deal.

Prestipino was scheduled back in court the following day on March 8.

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