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PLEA DEAL: Benitez Admits Killing Girlfriend

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A Des Moines man has pleaded guilty in the death of his girlfriend in June.

Nineteen-year-old Raymond Benitez was originally charged with first degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Judy VanLo. Officials say she was beaten to death with a crowbar on June 17th, 2012.

VanLo was also about two months pregnant at the time of her death. Her friends say she told them Benitez was the father.

Benitez was arrested on a material witness warrant about a week after her death while he tried to cross the Texas border into Mexico. He was charged with VanLo’s murder and extradited back to Iowa.

Friday, Benitez pleaded guilty to second degree murder and willful injury causing serious injury. He faces up to 60 years in prison and must serve at least 35 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Sentencing is set for March 14th.