MURRIETA – A probationer who fatally shot a man during a gunfight with another man just west of Temecula was sentenced today, Aug. 18, to 23 years, four months in state prison.
Agustin Contreras Cruz, 49, pleaded guilty last month to voluntary manslaughter and attempted murder, with sentence-enhancing gun use allegations, for the 2016 death of 42-year-old Pedro Cruz – no relation to the defendant – in unincorporated De Luz.
Superior Court Judge Mark Mandio certified the terms of the plea agreement and imposed the sentence stipulated by the prosecution and defense.
According to sheriff’s officials, on the night of Aug. 16, 2016, the defendant and another man, whose identity was not released, got into a dispute at a residence in the 43800 block of El Calamar Road, near Carancho Road.
The argument escalated, and the defendant pulled a gun, at which point the resident, whose identity was not released, armed himself, culminating in an exchange of gunfire, investigators said.
Pedro Cruz was standing nearby during the gun duel and was struck by one of Agustin Cruz’s bullets, suffering a fatal wound, prosecutors said. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
The resident was also hit, but not seriously wounded.
The defendant fled before deputies reached the rural location. However, he was located and arrested without incident less than a week later.
The circumstances behind the dispute were never clear, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Court records show that Agustin Cruz has a prior misdemeanor conviction for possession of controlled substances.