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Arizona man pleads guilty to killing Duluth man in Superior parking lot

Juan Padilla

The man accused in the shooting death of Terry Luukkonen of Duluth in the parking lot outside Superior's Genesis Attachments pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree intentional homicide.

Juan Leonardo Padilla, 42, of Fort Mohave, Ariz., admitted he was responsible for Luukkonen’s death two weeks before the case was set to go to trial.

In exchange for the plea, District Attorney Dan Blank said he would be seeking the least-severe form of a life sentence in Wisconsin. Blank said his recommendation would allow Padilla to petition for extended supervision after serving 20 years of his sentence.

The court has no obligation to follow the recommendation, a point Judge George Glonek made clear before accepting Padilla’s plea.

“That’s a petition for release … but that’s not a guarantee for release,” Blank said.

Padilla was arrested May 23, 2013, at the Allyndale Motel in Duluth, less than six hours after the shooting at Genesis that afternoon.

Luukkonen’s fiancé at the time, Christin Weir, notified police Padilla had made threats against Luukkonen after she had broken off a relationship she had with Padilla.

Workers at Genesis had observed Padilla’s gold Cadillac driving around the company parking lot in the days leading up to the shooting.

“Mr. Padilla has made this choice,” said his attorney, Chief Public Defender J. Patrick O’Neill. “He is desirous that the families involved not have to be put through the stress and trauma of a trial. He understands by entering this plea at this time, the court will make a finding of guilt.”

Blank said the plea came after discussion with Luukkonen’s family.

“In light of the seriousness of the case, the evidence, the victim impact, I think that it’s justice for the state to negotiate — not that much — but the lesser form of a life sentence,” Blank said.

Glonek accepted the plea and ordered a pre-sentence investigation. The judge scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 13.