ST. CHARLES, Ill. (STMW) — It has been 16 months since Juan Garnica was accused of beating his longtime friend, Abigail Villalpando, of Aurora, to death with a hammer.

And in June, prosecutors expect he will plead guilty to his involvement in the crime, the Aurora Beacon News is reporting.

Prosecutors would not comment on what the plea agreement entails, but Garnica faces between 20 and 60 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

At the Kane County Judicial Center on Friday, where a final plea setting was scheduled, Garnica, 20, remained quiet. His attorney informed Judge John Barsanti of Garnica’s decision to forgo a trial, and enter into a plea agreement with prosecutors.

He is expected to formally enter his plea on June 12, after he speaks with his parents about his decision, Assistant State’s Attorney Beth Peccarelli said in court Friday.

The Aurora man has been in jail on $5 million bail since his February 2013 arrest.

Prosecutors allege that on Jan. 31, 2013, Garnica struck Villalpando over the head with a hammer. He then commissioned two other men, Enrique Prado, 20, and Jose Becerra, 22, to help stuff the young woman’s body into a stolen barrel, which was then burned.

The 18-year-old waitress’ remains were found days later in a Montgomery field.

Prosecutors charged Garnica with first-degree murder. He faces between 20 and 60 years in prison. Prado and Becerra were charged with the lesser crime of concealing a homicide.

Both Prado and Garncia were also charged with arson for allegedly setting Villalpando’s car on fire under the High Street bridge following her disappearance.

Garnica remains in jail, but his co-defendants posted bond, and have been free for six months. The men’s bail was initially set at $100,000, but Barsanti agreed to lower that amount late last year. In November, Prado posted $1,000, and was released. Becerra posted $350 and was released.

Court records show that some type of “agreement” has been reached with both men, but prosecutors would not elaborate on the details.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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