Teen who killed clerk on a whim admits murder in plea agreement

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 11

A 16-year-old boy who told police he “want ed to know what it was like to kill someone” pleaded guilty yesterday to murdering a 7-Eleven clerk last year as she walked home from work in East Toledo.

Vicente Guevara pleaded guilty to the May 12, 1997, murder of 23-year-old Karen Thompson. The mother of two had just finished her shift at 2 a.m. when Guevara, a member of the Crips gang, shot her once in the back of her head with a sawed-off shot gun, with no apparent motive.

Emergency crews found her body four hours later, in the 600 block of Woodville Road.

A trial for Guevara had been scheduled for Monday, but prosecutors and defense attorneys reached a plea agreement yesterday after evidence surfaced regarding “the element of prior calculation and design” in the crime, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Wittenberg said.

The plea agreement reduced the most serious charge from aggravated murder to murder. Guevara pleaded guilty to a fire arms specification on the murder charge, and to charges of aggravated robbery and felonious assault, both linked to a stabbing in Prentice Park on April 16, 1997.

Guevara will be sentenced on July 23 at 2 p.m.

If Judge Wittenberg gives him the maximum sentence for all crimes, he could be sentenced to a mandatory 36 years to life. The minimum he could receive would be 18 years to life.

In either case, he would spend more time in prison than he has lived. He will not be eligible for early parole, or be able to receive a sentence reduction for good behavior.

Mary Sue Barone, an assistant prosecutor who handled the case, said the Thompson family is comfortable with the agreement.

After explaining the boy’s rights, Judge Wittenberg asked Guevara to describe and explain his actions on the night of the murder.

“I walked up behind Karen Thompson and shot her,” he said.

Judge Wittenberg: “Was there a reason you shot her?”

Guevara: “No.”

Judge Wittenberg: “What did you do after you shot her?”

Guevara: “Went home.”

In his testimony, Guevara admitted to the park stabbing, which was prompted when Guevara and a friend saw Stephen Marquez, 16, sitting on a bench in Prentice Park. He was waiting to walk his mother home from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, police said.

Young Marquez was wearing a Dallas Cowboys jacket that Guevara wanted.

“We just walked up to him and started fighting with him,” Guevara said.

He then took a butterfly knife and stabbed young Marquez in the neck. Guevara testified that he did not know his victim, as was the case with Ms. Thompson.

Guevara said he walked away without taking the jacket because it was soaked with the boy’s blood.

He showed little emotion during yesterday’s proceedings. Guevara, who was a 15-year-old Waite High School freshman at the time of the shooting, had left money and a paycheck in Ms. Thompson’s pock et.

Court records showed he had been troubled throughout his life, with a history of school suspensions, gang activity, and violence. He began drinking at age 11, was a father by 15, and has been described by teachers and officials as a menace to society.

One year ago Thursday, Juvenile Court Judge James Ray turned Guevara’s case over to adult court, saying the boy cannot be rehabilitated before he turns 21, when the juvenile system would have to release him.

Under Ohio law, a juvenile cannot receive the death penalty, even if he is tried as an adult.