A man pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday in the death of 21-year-old Joseph Lara.

The Kern County District Attorney’s Office said 30-year-old David Williams took a plea deal in which he faces four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, the maximum amount for that charge, as well as an additional two years after also pleading no contest to a drug charge in a separate case.

Williams is expected to be sentenced to six years in prison at a hearing on April 30.

“In no way is this suggesting that Joseph Lara’s life is only worth six years,” said Michael Caves, prosecuting attorney in the case. “There is no way under the law to adequately punish the people involved in Joseph Lara’s death because of the legal limitations of involuntary manslaughter.”

Williams was arrested in January after a dog found a human toe in the backyard of a residence in southwest Bakersfield. After the finding was reported to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, deputies found a body that was later identified as Lara.

Over the course of the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office learned that Lara had died of an overdose of several drugs provided by Williams and was buried in the backyard to prevent discovery.

Despite the limitations of an involuntary manslaughter case, Caves said he is happy with Tuesday’s plea agreement.

“It’s a relatively good outcome,” he said. “Nothing we do is going to bring back Joseph Lara, but six years is a substantial start in finding justice for him.”

Besides Williams, the Sheriff’s Office arrested two others in connection with the Lara case. Dennis Marroquin was arrested on suspicion of concealing evidence and drug possession.

Kailee Morrison was arrested on charges of conspiracy, being an accessory, possessing drugs for sale and keeping a residence to sell drugs. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

They will both be in court for hearings on Thursday.

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jluiz@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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