A Garden City man convicted of voluntary manslaughter in December will proceed to sentencing in April, after deciding he isn't going to walk back his plea agreement.

Alberto Tello, 23, of Garden City, filed motions in December to withdraw a plea agreement that reduced his charge of second-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter, to find ineffective assistance of counsel in Chief Public Defender Ron Evans, and to release him as a defendant due to immunity from prosecution on the basis that he killed a Garden City man last year in self-defense.

On Tuesday, Tello appeared alongside his new attorney, Jas P. Dhillon, in Finney County District Court before District Judge Ricklin Pierce for a status hearing. During the hearing, Tello indicated he wishes to proceed to sentencing with the previously established plea agreement after all. 

In doing so, Tello waived his right to a hearing that would have given him the chance to argue immunity from prosecution for fatally stabbing 23-year-old Carlos Romero on July 2, 2017.

Dhillon indicated that the defense is preparing to call two witnesses, including an expert witness, at the sentencing on April 30 to make the case for a softer sentence.

Tello also motioned for approval of a bond modification that would not have required any form of payment. Tello said he has been in jail since July and wants to settle family business before potentially being sent to prison. He cited his brother-in-law’s role as a police officer with the Garden City Police Department as potential justification for the modified bond.

“Like my attorney said, I’ve been here since July and I have some things that I do need to get done, knowing that sentencing is next and the possibility I will have to do some time,” Tello told Judge Pierce. “I do have a great family, and I just want to make sure that I’ve got everything I need done before I go away. With my brother in law being a Garden City police officer, I believe that that will help out a little bit on you granting me this [bond modification] to get everything done that I need to.”

Deputy Finney County Attorney Will Votypka noted that Tello already has a criminal history and was previously sentenced to time in prison by Pierce for attempted burglary of a motor vehicle. Since then, Tello has accrued three assault convictions and another conviction for battery of a corrections officer.

Votypka added that Tello was on parole when he killed Romero.

“What concerns me most is that this crime was committed while on parole from a felony,” Pierce said before denying the requested bond modification. 

Pierce did reduce Tello’s bond from $250,000 — an amount designated when he still faced a charge of second-degree murder — to $200,000 for the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter, a level-three person felony.

Pierce said Tello faces up to 228 months in prison for voluntary manslaughter if aggravating factors are found to be present during sentencing, and up to 206 months if the sentence is successfully mitigated by the defense.

Prior to Tello’s no-contest plea in December, Votypka laid out a factual basis for the voluntary manslaughter charge, the details of which were not disputed by Tello or his defense counsel at the time.

Votypka said Tello was at a party at Romero’s residence, 508 W. Thompson St., in the early morning hours of July 2 and was harassing a female friend of Romero, so Romero asked him to leave.

Votypka said Romero followed Tello outside as Tello went to his vehicle, where he seemed to retrieve a knife before returning to confront Romero at the end of his driveway. After a brief exchange of words, Romero began to swing at Tello as Tello engaged in a swinging motion and stabbed Romero one time just above the right collarbone.

An autopsy determined Romero most likely bled to death as a result of the wound.

Garden City police said in July that Romero went back into his residence after being stabbed and told others at the party to call 911. Tello fled the premises on foot before officers arrived.

Police found Romero wounded and lying in his living room. Finney County EMS transported him to St. Catherine Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police found Tello at his residence, hiding in a bedroom, and arrested him without incident.


Contact Mark Minton at mminton@gctelegram.com.