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Park Rapids man enters plea in July fight that killed friend

Luis Candelaria

Tears flowed Wednesday as a Park Rapids man pled guilty to punching his friend in the nose during an altercation last summer, causing his death.

Luis Candelaria, 48, will be sentenced on two of three charges filed by a Hubbard County grand jury in the July 3 death of Richard Allen Hoskins, 43.

A charge of Second Degree Murder will be dismissed at Candelaria's sentencing Feb. 28. Under the plea agreement Candelaria will serve 18 months in jail on lesser charges; part of his sentence will be stayed with a lengthy probation period to be determined later.

Candelaria took the witness stand to describe the typical holiday events that day as members of the victim's family wiped away tears. Candelaria and a group of friends had gone to Two Inlets to a bar-be-cue and boating with another friend who lived there. They had been drinking. Candelaria was on a "no drink" probation order for another incident.

On the way back to town, Candelaria and Hoskins' girlfriend, Colleen Conley, had criticized Hoskins for driving too fast.

Candelaria testified if the car had gotten pulled over, he would have been arrested for the alcohol consumption that was a violation of his parole.

Once the car reached Candelaria's home in Park Rapids, an angry Hoskins jumped out and threatened Candelaria, the defendant testified.

"He started swinging," Candelaria testified. "I hit him. He went down." When Hoskins started turning blue and couldn't get up, Candelaria testified he immediately started CPR while the others dialed 911.

He was still performing chest compressions when police arrived shortly after 9 p.m. Emergency personnel could not revive Hoskins.

"And it was your punch that caused his death?" defense attorney Jennifer Nelson asked her client.

"Yes, ma'am," Candelaria testified.

Nelson reminded Candelaria that by entering into the plea agreement, he was giving up his argument of self-defense that could be used at trial.

He testified he understood.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Candelaria will spend one year in jail on the probation violation, which Judge Paul Rasmussen said he would deal with next month.

Candelaria then would serve six months in jail on a count of Third Degree Assault.

Nelson said he would enter a rehab facility after that to deal with chemical dependency issues.

On a charge of First Degree Manslaughter, Candelaria's sentence would be stayed. In court Wednesday, Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne asked for 15 years of probation with strict conditions prohibiting him from using alcohol or drugs. Nelson wants a shorter probation period.

Candelaria has been incarcerated since the incident and will be given credit for the jail time he has already served.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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