Plea deal offered for woman in Homestead teen’s machete death

Desiray Strickland would serve 15 years in prison if she takes deal

MIAMI – A woman accused of participating in the machete killing of a teenage boy nearly seven years ago in Homestead is prepared to take a plea deal that would allow her to avoid a life sentence.

Her attorney told a Miami-Dade judge Wednesday that the deal would send Desiray Strickland to prison for 15 years.

She wanted to go over a couple of items in the deal with her parents before accepting.

The next hearing is set for June.

Police say Strickland was 19 when she and four others killed 17-year-old Jose Amaya Guardado in 2015 over a drug debt.

Kaheem Arbelo, Christian Colon, Joseph Michael Cabrera and Jonathan Lucas have also been charged in the killing. In 2017, the state waived the death penalty option for all of the suspects, with the exception of Arbelo, who they said was the ringleader.

According to a police report, the suspects and victim were students at the Homestead Job Corps center, a live-in school and vocational program.

Detectives said the suspects dug a hole in the woods two weeks before they killed Guardado on June 28, 2015, and buried him.

According to the report, Arbelo used a machete to slash Guardado after the group lured him into the woods and ambushed him.

Police said Arbelo’s friends watched him kill Guardado, and said Strickland complained that she missed part of the attack because she left for a few minutes to urinate in the woods.

According to the report, as the victim was dying, he was instructed to lie in the grave. Police said Guardado made a final attempt to fight off Arbelo, but was struck by the machete multiple times until his face caved in.

According to the report, the suspects got rid of the shovel and murder weapon and attempted to burn their clothes and Guardado’s belongings after the attack occurred.

Police said Strickland and Arbelo then had sex in the woods until it was time for them to return to campus at the Job Corps.

Guardado’s body was found by his brother days later on July 1.

The medical examiner determined the victim’s cause of death to be trauma and ruled the death a homicide.


About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.