Las Vegas Accused Murderer Pleads Guilty in Gruesome Death of Instagram Model
A man pleaded guilty on Monday to the abduction and grisly murder of a 24-year-old model whose body was found in the Nevada desert encased in concrete.
The defendant, Christopher Prestipino, 49, will be sentenced on April 25 for first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder charges in connection with the 2019 Las Vegas death of Esmeralda Gonzalez.
Prestipino’s plea was entered in Las Vegas court under the Alford doctrine. That means Prestipino maintains his innocence but acknowledges prosecutors likely have sufficient evidence for a conviction.
Craig Mueller, the Las Vegas-based criminal defense attorney representing Prestipino, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his client agreed to the plea deal because “He didn’t want to risk a life sentence.”
Prestipino was arrested on Feb. 18, 2021, and continues to be held at the Clark County Detention Center. Before arrest, he fled to Belize, then returned to the US.
Prestipino faces decades in prison during the upcoming sentencing hearing.
The 24-year-old victim had worked in the adult entertainment industry, the Review-Journal reported. She had more than 300K followers on her Instagram page.
Night of the Crime
Gonzalez was seen on surveillance video outside Prestipino’s residence on May 31, 2019, wearing high heels and lingerie and appearing disoriented, according to the New York Post. Gonzalez and Prestipino reportedly lived near each other.
Prestipino allegedly gave Gonzalez methamphetamine (meth) that night. He reportedly also tied her to a bedpost for an extended period. She reportedly struck him at one point before he allegedly injected her body with pool cleaning chemicals and later strangled her.
Prestipino then allegedly transported Gonzalez’s body into the desert in a rented U-Haul truck. Several months later, on October 8, authorities found her body near Glendale, Nev.
Her hands were tied, and her head and neck were covered with white tape, People reported. The body was covered by blankets and stuffed in a 250-gallon water tank.
The coroner’s office was unable to identify a precise cause of death. Her identity was confirmed by DNA tests, the Post reported.
Gonzalez was reported missing by her brother. Later, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) detectives received a tip in the case and narrowed in on Prestipino as the suspect.
Prestipino Reportedly Heard Voices
Shortly after his arrest, Prestipino’s attorney claimed his client was hearing voices and had a diminished memory, according to the Daily Mail. But he was never found incompetent to stand trial.
Prestipino’s former roommate, Casandra Garrett, 43, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the model’s death. She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2.
Prestipino’s one-time girlfriend, Lisa Mort, pleaded guilty to accessory to murder in connection with the case. She was sentenced to between two and five years in prison.
Gonzalez grew up in Mexico. She attended UNLV, People reported.