WORCESTER — A 20-year-old Wellington Street man who turned state's evidence in the 2015 stabbing death of Cherise D. Hill was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
Kevin Miranda and Pedro Solis were charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of Ms. Hill during the predawn hours of Dec. 2, 2015, on Murray Avenue.
Mr. Miranda, of 33 Wellington St., entered into a cooperation agreement with prosecutors and testified against the 29-year-old Mr. Solis, who was convicted of first-degree murder after a jury trial in January.
Prosecutors alleged that it was Mr. Solis, of 45 Grand St., who inflicted the 19 knife wounds suffered by Ms. Hill while she was being held down by Mr. Miranda. The attack by the two masked assailants was captured on surveillance video recovered by investigators.
The prosecution said Mr. Solis targeted the 31-year-old mother of three because she had seen him stab a man days earlier and he feared she would report him to authorities.
A 12-member Worcester Superior Court jury found Mr. Solis guilty of first-degree murder Jan. 19 under both of Assistant District Attorney Brett F. Dillon's theories of the crime, that the slaying was premeditated and that it was committed with extreme atrocity or cruelty. Mr. Solis was sentenced to the statutory term of life imprisonment without parole.
In exchange for his testimony, prosecutors agreed to let Mr. Miranda plead guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter with a recommendation that he be sentenced to 18 to 20 years in state prison. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 20 years.
Accompanied by his lawyer, David L. Cataldo, Mr. Miranda entered his guilty plea Thursday and Judge Shannon Frison imposed the 18-to-20-year sentence proposed by Mr. Dillon and Mr. Cataldo and called for under the cooperation agreement. Mr. Miranda was given credit for 944 days already spent in custody.
"I'm angry, I'm hurt, and I'm bitter," Ms. Hill's mother, Princilla Walker, said in an impact statement during the plea hearing.
"You held her down against her will while she was being tortured," the grieving mother told Mr. Miranda, adding that her daughter might have been able to escape with her life but for his actions. Ms. Walker said she was opposed to the sentencing recommendation and would have preferred that Mr. Miranda, like Mr. Solis, spend the rest of his life behind bars.
"I pray that, you know, somewhere along the line, that you turn your life around," Ms. Walker told Mr. Miranda. She said her daughter had been deprived of the chance to raise her children and recover from the mental illness that cut short her promising musical career.
In an impact statement read in court at the time of Mr. Solis' sentencing, Ms. Walker said her daughter was a gifted singer who attended Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full scholarship until a diagnosis of bipolar disorder sent her life on a downward spiral.
Judge Frison, who presided over Mr. Solis' trial and imposed the life sentence without parole mandated by his first-degree murder conviction, told him at that time that his actions were "cowardly, brutal, vicious and senseless.
"You took her life for no reason at all. You used an 18-year-old boy to help you murder and stab to death a young woman. She did not stand a chance," the judge said to Mr. Solis.
Mr. Miranda, who will turn 21 Friday, testified during the trial that it was Mr. Solis who initiated the attack on Ms. Hill after calling him on the phone and asking him to come to the area of the BP gas station on Chandler Street because they had to "go to work." Mr. Miranda also testified that after the fatal stabbing, Mr. Solis told him Ms. Hill was a "snitch" who "got what she deserved."
VIDEO: The segment of video footage posted here shows the moments before the fatal stabbing of a 31-year-old woman on Murray Avenue in Worcester. The video camera is in the Kirsch Liquors parking lot on Chandler Street.