Lester Antonio Portillo, 26, of Modesto, faces a prison sentence of 25 years to life following his guilty plea in court that he fatally stabbed a man in a heated argument with two Hatch Road store clerks over buying cigarettes.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 6 when the family of Jagjeet Singh, 31, has a chance to address the court.
Portillo entered a guilty plea on Dec. 5 to a charge of premediated murder relating to the May 4, 2017 stabbing.
The argument was over the clerk’s refusal to sell loose cigarettes to Portillo. Deputy District Attorney Blythe Harris said Portillo felt he had been “disrespected” at Hatch Food and Gas, 800 W. Hatch Road in south Modesto, and went home irate Portillo to fetch a a 12-inch hunting knife before returning to the store. He waited outside until the store until the clerks closed the business at approximately 11:50 p.m. When Singh walked outside the store Portillo stabbed him. The victim collapsed in the doorway and later died at a local hospital.
After initially denying he was involved, Portillo admitted hitting the victim while the victim was bending over to lock a rollup door. He told investigators that he had been smoking two grams of methamphetamine daily and drinking alcohol during the week preceding the crime.