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Mankato man pleads guilty to Cottonwood County murder

WINDOM -- Less than a month before he was scheduled to go to trial for premeditated murder, Gerard Irving Holt pleaded guilty Monday in Cottonwood County District Court to intentional murder in the second-degree.

Holt, also known as Ivan Lopez and Latin, was arrested in November 2007 for the murder of Alberto Samilpa Jr., along with several other people. According to the criminal complaint, Holt, Samilpa and others were involved in burglarizing a home in Blue Earth County near Mankato Nov. 17. Along with household items, a 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera and a 2000 Lincoln Navigator were stolen, as well as eight firearms.

At 1:39 a.m. Nov. 19, a call came into dispatch regarding a vehicle on fire on Cottonwood County 3, just north of U.S. 71. When authorities responded to the fire, they found a Porsche on fire and a deceased male, Samilpa, laying on the shoulder next to the vehicle. He had been shot in the back of the head. Around 5 a.m., the Lincoln was found in Watonwan County and had already been burned.

According to others involved with the burglary and with moving the vehicles, Samilpa had broken the clutch on the Porsche while the men were moving the cars from a farm site where they had stashed them.

One of the other men involved, Axel Kramer, told authorities Holt and Lionel Benavidez, aka Blaze, shot Samilpa and started the vehicle on fire. When Kramer was apprehended several days later in Texas, he told authorities it was Holt and Kramer who had shot Samilpa.

At the time of his death, Samilpa was facing criminal sexual conduct charges for allegedly raping a teenaged girl at a party.

Although Holt will not be sentenced until a pre-sentence investigation is complete, the plea agreement is for 362 months of incarceration, to be served concurrently with a 38 month sentence Holt is currently serving after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting in the second-degree burglary in Blue Earth County. In the petition to plead guilty, the document states the the Minnesota Department of Corrections is not opposing a request from Holt to serve the sentence in Indiana.

Benavidez and Kramer have not yet scheduled a court trial, and each are charged with first- and second degree murder. Hans Hottel, who was charged with aid and abet second-degree murder and aiding an offender, pleaded guilty to the latter charge in December 2008 and was sentenced to a year in jail and two years unsupervised probation.