Santa Rosa, CA – July 18, 2016 – Defendants Joseph Varela (18 years-old) and Manuel Khiobouakhan (21 years-old) of Santa Rosa entered pleas of no contest to the December 31, 2013, New Year’s Eve killing today before the Honorable Dana Simonds. Defendant Joseph Varela pled to voluntary
manslaughter with enhancements for personal use of a firearm and committing the offense to benefit a criminal street gang. Defendant Manuel Khiobouakhan pled to voluntary manslaughter with an enhancement for personal use of a firearm.
“This case went through jury trial, with an outcome that favored this disposition,” said District Attorney Jill Ravitch. “Words became physical violence that took a man’s life. We hope that the victim’s family will find some comfort in the resolution of this case.”
The charges resulted from the December 31, 2013, killing of a man at a party in Santa Rosa. Both defendants were at a party on Piner Rd. when an altercation took place between the victim and Defendant Varela over an incident of domestic violence. The altercation escalated and both defendants shot and killed
the victim. The case went to jury trial in 2015 and resulted in a mistrial when the jury was unable to reach a verdict. The jury was split with two jurors in favor of murder, eight jurors in favor of voluntary manslaughter and two jurors in favor of acquittal.
The Honorable Dana Simonds accepted the pleas and indicated her sentences based on the evidence presented at trial. Defendant Khiobouakhan will face a potential seven year commitment to prison. Defendant Varela will face a potential ten year commitment. The pair will be sentenced on September 13, 2016.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Chris Honigsberg and Javier Vaca and assisted by District Attorney Investigator Robert DeMiguel. The Santa Rosa Police Department headed the investigation.