MARTINEZ -- George Fite, charged with the 2012 machete murder of a homeless man in Crockett, was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday after accepting a plea agreement just days before his case was to go to trial.
Fite, 20, was charged with killing Daniel Stakenburg with a machete at Stakenburg's elaborate homeless camp and burying his body, which had several slashing wounds, in a shallow grave. Fite, who had been charged with one count of murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, said deputy district attorney Simon O'Connell.
Fite, who already has served two years, received 11 years in prison for manslaughter. Seven one-year enhancements raised the sentence to 18 years.
"That's a lengthy prison sentence for a person who had done nothing close to this magnitude up until this time," O'Connell said.
Before sentencing, O'Connell read a letter from Stakenburg's brother, who described his sibling as a good person who was battling substance abuse. Jay Stakenburg said he didn't speak with his brother the final 18 months of his life, but he anticipated a reconciliation and, with the rest of his family, held out hope that Daniel Stakenburg might one day conquer his addiction.
"You robbed us of that hope," Jay Stakenburg's letter read. "You stole from Dan any chance he had at reaching his full potential. Because of your reckless choice you not only killed my brother, you killed my chance to have that conversation."
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.