Both men accused of killing a Big Hill woman in 2019 when they were each 16 years old are now facing the possibility of spending the rest of their lives behind bars after the second pleaded guilty to premeditated murder and other charges late last month.
Nikalus Overstreet, 18, whose jury trial in Tuolumne County Superior Court was previously scheduled to begin Wednesday, entered a guilty plea on June 28 to one count of first-degree murder, attempted murder and arson.
Overstreet and Seber “Gage” Stokes, also 18, are currently at Tuolumne County Jail awaiting sentencing for the brutal slaying of 39-year-old Dionecia Valencia, who was found dead with numerous stab and chop wounds near her burning trailer on Calle Quartz Road by firefighters on the morning of Aug. 13, 2019.
Both teens were arrested later the same day that Valencia’s body was discovered and have remained in custody ever since, first in separate juvenile detention facilities and then in the county jail after they each turned 18.
Public records and Overstreet’s court-appointed defense attorney, Clint Parish, both confirmed he pleaded guilty at his last appearance in court for a trial readiness conference.
Parish said he could not comment further on why Overstreet took the plea. because the agreement was not stipulated, which means the judge still has discretion over exactly how much prison time he will be sentenced to.
Overstreet’s plea agreement is to serve at least 25 years to life in state prison, as well as five, seven, or nine additional years that will be decided by the judge at his sentencing on Aug. 27. Nothing else was said or done during the June 28 readiness conference, according to the minute record.
The teens are being tried separately because they each presented a different version of the events on the night Valencia was murdered, with Stokes claiming in open court that he only stabbed her once in the neck with a handleless knife after she disparaged his dead mother.
Each of the defendants were found eligible to be tried as adults by separate judges following multi-day court hearings last summer.
Stokes is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty on May 26 to the same charges as his accomplice. He faces a stipulated sentence of 25 years to life in state prison, as well as nine years for the attempted murder charge.
The attempted murder and arson charges stem from the pair setting fire to Valencia’s trailer after killing her while one of the victim’s female friends was sleeping inside, though the friend managed to escape without injury.
Both teens will become eligible for parole after 25 years under California laws specific to juvenile offenders.
Contact Alex MacLean at email@example.com or (209) 768-5175.