A 38-year-old man pleaded guilty in the fatal stabbings of his three children, whose bodies were found in a parked SUV in in the Historic South-Central neighborhood of South L.A. five years ago, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Luiz Fuentes entered the guilty plea to three counts of first-degree murder, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. The judge immediately sentenced him to 78 years to life in prison.
The defendant’s three sons were discovered dead in the back seat of a vehicle parked across the street from an elementary school in the 300 block of East 32nd Street on the morning of Sept. 9, 2015. All had been stabbed, investigators said.
Then-Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck called the crime scene “gruesome.”
Fuentes was found in the front seat of the SUV and also had stab wounds, according to authorities. Police subsequently arrested him.
The boys were identified at the time as Luis Alfanso Fuentes, 10; Juan Daniel Fuentes, 9; and Alexander Fuentes, 8. Prosecutors did not name the victims but listed their ages as 11, 9 and 8.
Relatives told KTLA in 2015 that the children’s biological mother had died several years before and, until recently, the children had resided with Fuentes, their stepmother and a younger sibling. A local pastor said the father was out of work and lived with his sons in the SUV.
The Los Angeles Times reported that multiple calls regarding alleged abuse in the family had been placed to the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services prior to the murders, leading to the agency to launch an investigation into whether those calls were properly handled.