SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A plumber pleaded no contest to second-degree murder on Tuesday for beating another man to death with a metal bar in a South San Francisco gym in 2014, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Kenneth Osako, 47, who had been using steroids, had a brief encounter with the victim, 44-year-old Diego Galindo, in the gym locker room in Bally Total Fitness at 180 El Camino Real, before the attack at about 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2014, according to his attorney, Steven Chase.
Galindo spoke to him in Spanish, and while Osako speaks some Spanish he didn't understand much except the word "fight," which sent him into a "roid rage," Chase said.
Osako approached Galindo from behind, struck him three or four times with an 18-inch metal bar used to hold weights, and fled the area, prosecutors said.
"He feels horrible, he killed basically an innocent man because he was so wired up from using steroids and a little bit of methamphetamine that he wasn't thinking clearly," Chase said.
Galindo was taken to San Francisco General Hospital but died from his injuries the next day. Witnesses identified Osako as the assailant and he was arrested the day after the attack.
A popular butcher at Carniceria Tepa on Linden Avenue, Galindo's death drew numerous messages of mourning and anger from the South San Francisco community.
Osako pleaded not guilty to murder charges in 2014 and was ordered to stand trial on the charge last year.
But on Tuesday Osako pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in the courtroom of Judge John Grandsaert, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.
He faces a minimum of 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on April 25 but will be sentenced to no more than 17 years to life, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.
While he maintains Osako had no intention of killing Galindo, Chase said he could have faced a sentence of up to 30 years to life if convicted of first-degree murder and Osako didn't want to put Galindo's family through a trial.
Prosecutors had said Galindo had made a joking request to Osako's girlfriend to take a ride on his motorcycle a day prior to the attack, but Chase said the man who made the request was wearing a helmet and it wasn't clear it was Galindo. Instead, Chase said, it was the locker room altercation that provoked the attack.
Chase said Osako was once a munitions expert in the U.S. Army and recently had been working as a plumber. He has four daughters and a son ranging from their teens to their early 20s who he doted on, and now he feels awful that he took Galindo from his family.
Now that he's off drugs, Osako is "an intelligent, calm, interesting man," Chase said.
"It's just a tragedy what steroids can do to somebody, and a life has been taken because of it," Chase said. "That's something he's going to have to live with for the rest of his life."
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