Man pleads guilty to 2016 murder of Santa Maria teen

Posted at 8:38 AM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 11:38:11-04

A man could spend life behind bars for his role in the killing of a Santa Maria teen in 2016.

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office says Israel Gaspar Cruz, now 21, pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder and also admitted that he used a knife to commit the crime, which prosecutors say was gang related.

Cruz was one of six arrested shortly after the January 25, 2016 murder of Marcos Javier Arce Pena, who police say was stabbed to death during a fight between two groups of people on East Donovan Road that afternoon.

Cruz is due back in court September 7 where he is expected to be sentenced to 26 years-to-life behind bars. 

Israel Cruz