Guilty plea in killing

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A Sonora parolee who shot his girlfriend to death last December has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and manufacturing methamphetamine in a plea agreement reached yesterday.

On Sept. 29, Kristopher McDaniel will be sentenced to 16 years and six months in prison for killing Jennifer Lynn Coons, 21. After serving the mandatory 85 percent or 13 years McDaniel will be eligible for parole.

This is his second strike, said Tuolumne County District Attorney Donald Segerstrom, who worked out the plea bargain with McDaniel's defense attorney, Jim Webster of Sonora.

McDaniel's first strike came from a 1995 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. He served three years in prison for that conviction.

On Dec. 2, Coons died at Tuolumne General Hospital from a single .22 caliber gunshot wound to her chest that ripped through her coronary artery. She was still alive after the shooting at the Big Hill-area mobile home where she lived with McDaniel.

She was taken to the hospital by Jerry Coey, who was at a shed on the same Gunsight Road property at the time of the shooting occurred.

Segerstrom contends that Coey, 31, was McDaniel's methamphetamine-making partner, even though Coey was found not guilty of the manufacturing charge earlier this year.

"This killing was the result of two of Tuolumne County's biggest criminal problems methamphetamine and domestic violence," Segerstrom said. "Meth is poison. There was a lab up there, and Coey admitted McDaniel was supplying him with meth."

In addition to murder and the manufacturing charge, McDaniel, 31, was originally charged with possessing methamphetamine and stolen property and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Those charges were dropped in the plea agreement.

Webster said the deal is good for McDaniel because he faced the possibility of a jury finding him guilty of second-degree murder, the manufacturing charge and the firearm possession charges. Had he been convicted on all counts, McDaniel would have faced up to 40 years in prison.

"We took the deal we could get after hammering this out with the district attorney for many hours," Webster said.

The Union Democrat
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