Man Sentenced in Killing of Model Whose Body Was Found Encased in Concrete
The Nevada man was accused of injecting chemicals into and strangling the victim.
A Nevada man was sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison Tuesday in the death of a model whose body was found encased in concrete in the desert outside Las Vegas in 2019. Christopher Prestipino, 49, pleaded guilty in March to second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping charges in the killing of Esmeralda Gonzalez, 24, who was reported missing in May 2019. Here's what you need to know about this shocking crime.
Who Is Christopher Prestipino?
Prestipino lived with Casandra Garrett, 43, in the neighborhood where Gonzalez was last seen on May 31, 2019, according to surveillance video. Gonzalez had been held against her will inside Prestipino's house, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said at the time.
Who Was Esmeralda Gonzalez?
Gonzalez was an adult entertainment model with more than 300,000 followers on Instagram. She was reported missing five months before law enforcement officials found her body in a desert area 50 miles from Las Vegas on Oct. 8, 2019. They found the body inside a 250-gallon water tank, covered with concrete and wood, according to court documents.
Gonzalez was kind and jovial and had big dreams, said her brother, Juan Gonzalez Madera, at Tuesday's sentencing hearing. "It pains me to know that she will never have the opportunity to go to law school and protect the rights of others," Gonzalez Madera said.
Gonzalez appeared disoriented while wandering Prestipino's neighborhood before she vanished, according to surveillance video. Gonzalez was in Prestipino's house at some point, where he gave her methamphetamine, prosecutors said. Prestipino also tied her up in his bedroom and strangled her, they said. After her body was found, the Clark County coroner's office could not determine her cause of death.
What Happened Next
Law enforcement officials arrested Prestipino and his friend, Lisa Mort, days after Gonzalez's body was found. Mort reportedly knew about Prestipino's actions and tried to warn him that detective's were investigating Gonzalez's death. Prestipino pleaded guilty to murder and felony kidnapping in an Alford plea, which allowed the court to treat Prestipino as guilty without his admitting guilt.
Mort pleaded guilty to being an accessory to murder in February 2020 and was sentenced to two to five years in prison. Garrett pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in February 2021. She is scheduled to be sentenced May 23.
Prestipino apologized to Gonzalez's family at Tuesday's sentencing hearing but deflected his responsibility in her death. "My involvement was after the fact," Prestipino said. "I don't believe this death was intentional, but like the medical examiner, I still don't know the exact cause of death. I do regret ever meeting [Garrett]."