A Costa Mesa youth who told police he watched a friend kill a woman and bury the body in a backyard planter was sentenced Monday to 360 days in jail.
Kurt Biezunski, 17, originally was charged with first-degree murder along with Steven Telles, 16, in the killing of Eugenia Baker, 60. The woman's body was found in a garden planter at her Costa Mesa home on May 19, the day after she was killed.
In sentencing Biezunski, Orange County Superior Court Judge Francisco P. Briseno fulfilled an agreement in which Biezunski would testify against Telles.
Baker and her husband had been caring for Telles, who was the son of close friends, police said, but she and Telles had had a number of arguments about his school and personal habits.
Telles and Biezunski were arrested hours after Baker's body was found by friends who had searched her house and neighborhood to find her. She had been reported missing the previous day.
Police said she was bludgeoned to death, and that Biezunski helped Telles wrap the body and bury it in the 4-by-7-foot wooden planter.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Maguire said prosecutors decided, after the original charges were filed, that although Biezunski was present at the time of the killing, he had not taken part. They allowed Biezunski to plead guilty to a charge of being an accessory after the slaying because he at first had provided a phony alibi for Telles.
Biezunski was sentenced to 360 days in jail and three years' probation on condition that he testify truthfully at Telles' preliminary hearing, which is set for March 25.
Prosecutors said that because he pleaded guilty, Biezunski must testify against Telles and cannot argue that to do so would force him to incriminate himself. They said that without the guilty plea, it would have been necessary to grant Biezunski immunity from prosecution to get his testimony.