Janesville (WKOW) -- from Rock County DA: Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary announced Thursday that Ezequiel Lopez-Zavala entered a guilty plea to Manslaughter While Using a Dangerous Weapon in Rock County Circuit Court Branch 6 before the Honorable Richard Werner.
Lopez-Zavala was originally charged in 1988 with first degree intentional homicide for causing the death of David Landwehr on September 19, 1988 on the west side of Beloit.
According to the criminal complaint, Landwehr's body was found in a driveway at 415 Roosevelt; Landwehr suffered a fatal injury from a single stab would to his neck which severed his common carotid artery and adjacent left jugular vein; witnesses reported having seen Landwehr and Lopez-Zavala arguing and swinging at one another in the road in front of 802 ½ Vine Street; and Landwehr's body was discovered shortly thereafter.
Lopez-Zavala was apprehended in South Beloit, Illinois shortly after the discovery of Landwehr's body and a knife was found in his possession.
Lopez-Zavala was interviewed by officers from the Beloit Police Department and admitted that he had stabbed Landwehr one time while they were arguing in the road in front of 802 ½ Vine.
Lopez-Zavala stated he stabbed Landwehr because Landwehr came at him.
Lopez-Zavala faces a maximum sentence of a fine not to exceed $10,000 and imprisonment for not more than 15 years or both for the crime of manslaughter while using a dangerous weapon.
Manslaughter while using a dangerous weapon is committed when a person causes the death of another person unnecessarily in the exercise of self-defense while using a dangerous weapon, for example, a knife.
The legislature rewrote the homicide laws effective January 1, 1989 and this crime would currently be a Class B felony, subject to a maximum penalty of 60 years imprisonment.
However, the law in effect on the date of offense, September 19, 1988, must be applied to the facts in this case.
Sentencing is set for January 12, 2009 at 1:15 in Rock County Circuit Court Branch 6.