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Fri, Dec. 13

Man pleads guilty in Chino Valley shooting

PRESCOTT - Edward Vallejos walked into court out of police custody to plead guilty in a March shooting and, to nearly everyone's surprise, walked out in handcuffs, headed for jail.

Vallejos, 33, was in court to agree to a plea in the nonfatal shooting of Corey Sgarlata, 23, of Cottonwood in a Chino Valley home. It happened in the 2800 block of West Hilltop Road at 4:30 a.m. March 1.

He pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of endangerment with a deadly weapon. The agreement would likely put Vallejos in prison for three years, then on probation for five years afterward.

Once he had agreed to the deal, as the case wrapped up, Judge Celé Hancock mentioned taking Vallejos into custody.

His attorney, Eric English, leapt to his feet. "He's going into custody now, judge?" he asked.

Hancock said yes; that was the rule with the kind of plea they had signed. She asked Deputy County Attorney Jeff Paupore if that was his understanding.

"We never really discussed it," he said.

English protested. "He is caring for his elderly father. He needs time."

Hancock said, "It's not my policy to let someone stay out of custody who is in a stipulated plea."

English pointed out that he had made all his court appearances and could be counted on to continue to appear. He then asked if they could defer the plea so Vallejos could stay out of custody on bond.

"I'm not going to defer acceptance of the plea agreement," Hancock said. "Obviously, someone was shot in this case. I don't see any reason to keep him out of custody."

As deputies cuffed him, Vallejos turned to his family and said, "I'll be all right; they're taking me today."

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