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ELKO, Nev. (AP) — A former Idaho ranch hand who is not a United States citizen faces up to life in state prison without parole and possible deportation after pleading no contest to killing and decapitating a northeast Nevada woman in 2016.

The Elko Daily Free Press reports that 47-year-old Jose de Jesus Segundo-Huizar entered his plea through an interpreter Monday in Elko District Court in the slaying of Carmen Magallanes-Sanchez.

County prosecutors agreed to drop five additional counts as part of a plea-bargain arrangement.

Authorities have said a motive for the slaying was unclear, but that Segundo-Huizar said he knew Magalanes-Sanchez.

Segundo-Huizar lived in Jerome, Idaho. He remains jailed in Elko pending sentencing.

Magalanes-Sanchez lived with her boyfriend in the small town of Ryndon, Nevada.

Judge Al Kacin says she was struck with a hammer or similar object before she died. Her severed head was later found buried about a mile from her body northeast of Elko.

Segundo-Huizar faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He also could be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after serving 20 years, or 50 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.

The counts that were dropped included an alternate charge of second-degree murder as well as burglary, kidnapping and child abuse charges.

The child abuse charge stemmed from the fact a child about 9 months old was left in a crib for about 12 hours at the time of the incident in August 2016, authorities said.

Segundo-Huizar originally pleaded not guilty in February.

During Monday’s hearing, he admitted to not being a United States citizen, a factor that could result “up to and including removal and deportation from the U.S.,” Kacin said.

Asked if he understood the consequences of his plea, Segundo-Huizar said through his court translator, “I understand perfectly.”

A date for the sentencing hearing has not been set.

Segundo-Huizar’s public defender, Kriston Hill, said it could take up to three hours to allow for victim impact statements.


Information from: Elko Daily Free Press,