Ricardo Medina, the actor who played the Red Lion Ranger in Power Rangers Wild Force from 2002 to 2003, has pleaded guilty to killing his roommate, Josh Sutter, with a samurai sword. Medina, who initially claimed he was acting in self-defense, pleaded to voluntary manslaughter and now faces six years in prison. He had initially been charged with murder, which, if convicted, would have carried a sentence of 26 years to life.
According to investigators, the incident started as an argument between Medina and Josh Sutter on January 31st, 2015, over how Medina's girlfriend had parked her car. The altercation turned heated, and investigators said Sutter forced his way into Medina's room. Medina grabbed a samurai sword he kept by the door and stabbed Sutter multiple times before calling 911.
Though he was arrested shortly after the incident, he was released days later, with the DA's office announcing that he wouldn't face charges. But a year later, in January 2016, he was charged with murder. At the time, Medina's lawyer criticized the long wait. "Waiting a year to charge someone can prejudice a client," attorney Allen Bell told E! News. "Memories become faded, you may not be able to find percipient witnesses and crime scenes can get corrupted."
Yet evidently, there was enough to scare Medina into accepting a plea deal over the possibility of a life-sentence at trial. Medina had initially claimed he was acting in self defense, but an autopsy reportedly showed that aside from stab wounds in the abdomen, Sutter had sustained injuries on his hand that were consistent with defensive wounds. At a preliminary hearing last October, prosecutors played the 911 call in which Medina is heard talking to Sutter after the stabbing: "Damn it, Josh. Why did you do this, man. Why did you make me do this?"
Sutter, who was 36 at the time of his death, had moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to open a business with his sister, Rachel Kennedy, that sold rescue dogs. The apartment where the stabbing took place was meant to be a place for the dogs to live between new homes, Kennedy told the Los Angeles Times. Medina began living there after she hired him to care for the animals, but began acting "erratically," Kennedy said.
According to Kennedy, Medina and Sutter began arguing frequently. At one point, she said, Medina threatened to release the dogs into the wild.
Medina, who also made one-off appearances on ER and CSI: Miami – and voiced the villain Deker in the 2011-12 series Power Rangers Samurai – will be sentenced on March 30th.
"It was an offer that was definitely worth it for him to take," Medina's attorney, Stanley Friedman said. "It mitigated his risk of potentially getting a life sentence."