A defendant once charged with second-degree murder was sentenced to time served Thursday for voluntary manslaughter in the death of a 2-year-old boy.
Joshuae Robert Preston shook the hand of his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman, following sentencing in Department 1 of Kern County Superior Court. Preston will soon be a free man for the first time since December 2010.
Cadman said the death of Guillermo Alvarez is a tragedy, but it was due to disease. The attorney said Preston loved Alvarez as if he was the child's father.
Cadman has said his client is looking forward to being reunited with his daughter.
Preston's mother attended the sentencing but declined to comment.
Deputy District Attorney David Zulfa said the sentence imposed by Judge Colette M. Humphrey was in line with the plea deal offered by the prosecutor's office. He said it wasn't justice, but at least provides some resolution for the victim's family.
"This doesn't change the fact that their 2-year-old son was killed," Zulfa said.
The prosecutor said there were a number of issues in dispute regarding the facts of the case, including whether Preston injured the child. Zulfa said he doesn't believe the injuries to Alvarez were caused by performing CPR on the boy.
Humphrey sentenced Preston, who was 32 as of entering his plea on May 11, to three years in prison. Preston, however, had already spent the past two and a half years in prison and was scheduled to be released Thursday.
The coroner's office said Alvarez died in 2009 of blunt force trauma, and deputies have said Preston was the only adult caring for the child while his girlfriend was at work. Preston was originally charged with second-degree murder and assault on a child resulting in death or great bodily injury.
Those charges were dismissed and a voluntary manslaughter conviction was accepted in a plea deal offered following a trial in January in which a jury deadlocked 11-1 for not guilty.
Preston had a relatively minor criminal record before he was charged with the death of Alvarez. He pleaded no contest to a peace disturbance in 2009 and to drunken driving in 2004, and has convictions for driving without a license in 2003, 2004 and 2005.