SLO man pleads guilty to murdering his neighbor over cell phone

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comJune 28, 2013 

Edmund Nungaray, shown in October 2012, was charged with murder for allegedly choking neighbor Deirdre Crowley.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

A San Luis Obispo man who allegedly strangled his neighbor over a dispute involving a missing cell phone has pleaded guilty to second degree murder.

Under the terms of his plea, Edmund Nungaray, 60, will be sentenced to a term of 15 years to life in prison. Because it’s a murder case, he will have to serve a minimum of 15 years before he’s eligible for parole.

He is charged with the murder of Dierdre Crowley, whose body was found slumped on a couch in her apartment — located across from Nungaray’s — on Sept. 29, 2012. Police had responded to the Bullock Garden Apartments, where the two lived, twice previously that night as Nungaray and Crowley argued about a cell phone. Nungaray told police he’d given Crowley, 46, his phone so she could help him change his voice mail, but she hadn’t returned it. Crowley said she didn’t have the phone and allowed the responding officers to search for it.

After a second visit to the complex, officers with the San Luis Obispo Police Department told the two to stay away from each other. But five hours later, the two bickered again, and Nungaray allegedly choked Crowley to death.

Some time after the murder, Crowley’s mother found Nungaray’s phone inside Crowley’s apartment.

Nungaray’s first-degree murder trial was set to begin July 8, but a deal was reached Thursday afternoon, avoiding a trial.

Crowley’s survivors will have a chance to make victim impact statements during Nungaray’s Aug. 28 Superior Court sentencing.

Nungaray had a history of misdemeanors, including battery and violations of protective orders. A former wife said his demeanor changed drastically after suffering a stroke some years ago. A neighbor said Nungaray and Crowley had fought for months before the murder.

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