Man sentenced to 12 years in Chula Vista beating death

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — One of two Chula Vista residents who took part in the beating death of a man during an argument at a marina in the South Bay city was sentenced to a dozen years in state prison Monday.

Austin Lee Kirchner, 23, pleaded guilty last month to voluntary manslaughter in connection with the June 19, 2018, bludgeoning of 40-year-old Rafael Cabrera. In addition to manslaughter, Kirchner admitted to an allegation of using a weapon — a metal pipe — during the killing.

Medics took the unconscious victim to a trauma center, where he was placed on life support. He was pronounced dead two days later.

Investigators said that about 8:30 p.m. on June 19, Cabrera, Kirchner and Kirchner’s co-defendant Kevin Haynes, got into a confrontation when someone in a group the suspects were with insulted Cabrera’s girlfriend, Lt. Dan Peak said.

During the ensuing quarrel, Cabrera was grabbed and held while Kirchner beat him on the head repeatedly with a metal pipe. Haynes and Kirchner then got into a vehicle and drove off prior to the arrival of police, Peak alleged.

Haynes pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact late last year for driving Kirchner from the crime scene.

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