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Nearly 30 years later, man pleads guilty to murder of 14-year-old girl

A Castroville man has pleaded guilty to the 1990 murder of a teenager and the attempted kidnapping in 1993 of another teenager, Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni announced Wednesday. Arsenio Leyva, 57, pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of 14-year-old Christy Sue Pina.

He also pleaded guilty to the attempted kidnapping of a minor with the intent to commit rape and assault of a minor with intent to commit rape related to a separate incident involving a 13-year-old girl. Pina was last seen alive on Feb. 6, 1990 at a middle school in Salinas. Her body was eventually discovered by workers in an artichoke field adjacent to state Highway 1 in Castroville, prosecutors said.

Leyva was 27 years old at the time of the murder and was on probation for unlawful sexual intercourse with two 14-year-old girls in 1987. In an unrelated case, Leyva tried to abduct a 13-year-old girl on Sept. 30, 1993 as she was walking to school on East Bolivar Street in Salinas.

In that incident, Leyva jumped out of a van, grabbed the girl and tried to pull her inside.

The girl, with the help of a witness, was able to fight off the attack, and Leyva fled the scene. The witness was able to obtain a partial license plate of the van, and both the victim and the witness positively identified Leyva as the attacker, prosecutors said.

Following the attempted kidnapping, Leyva fled to Mexico and lived under the assumed name of Rogelio Pacheco Ibarra.

Following DNA testing that positively identified Leyva as the perpetrator in the 1990 murder of Pina, a warrant was issued for his arrest in 2007.

He was arrested in Nogales, Mexico on Oct. 1, 2014, but he fought extradition to the United States until May 3, 2018.

Leyva will be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for Pina’s murder and a consecutive seven years and four months in prison for the attempted kidnapping. He will also be required to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life.

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