A Pacoima man pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter for shooting to death an alleged drug dealer outside a Pacoima apartment complex.
Lester Eugene James, 26, was originally charged with murdering Victor Richardson, 25, of Pacoima on Sept. 18 in the 12700 block of Van Nuys Boulevard.
Prosecutors offered James the opportunity to plead guilty to the lesser charge because the shooting did not meet the legal standard for first-degree murder, which requires premeditation, or the standard for second-degree murder, which requires malice, Deputy Public Defender Marc A. Hentell said.
The shooting during an argument over a wristwatch apparently occurred during the “heat of passion,” which is the legal standard for voluntary manslaughter, Hentell said.
Richardson was shot twice in the stomach. He died the next day at Holy Cross Medical Center, according to court documents.
James, who surrendered to police 2 hours after the shooting, faces a maximum of 13 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in San Fernando Superior Court on Nov. 21.