Larry Walters, 20, of Loveland, was charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of David Shern, 34, on April 30 at North Lake Park in Loveland.
According to police, Walters, in a post-arrest interview, admitted to stabbing Shern with what prosecutors called a sword - a 14-inch flame-shaped blade attached to a handle.
Prosecutors and Walters agreed to amend the second-degree murder charge originally filed against Walters if he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. As part of the agreement, a first-degree assault charge was dismissed.
Walters will also serve a mandatory three years on parole upon his release from prison.
A sentencing hearing for Walters will be held Nov. 9 after a pre-sentence investigation is conducted even though the plea deal requires Walters to be sentenced for exactly 12 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Judge Stephen Schapanski accepted the plea deal after he was told by Walters and his attorney, public defender Norm Townsend, that Walters is on medication for mental health reasons. Although Townsend said Walters has not yet been diagnosed with a specific mental health disorder.
Walters is still in custody at the Larimer County jail.
Police and prosecutors said at a July hearing that Walters was upset because Shern made a rude gesture at him, got out of the car with the sword, scuffled with Shern and then stabbed him.
"Mr. Walters said they had flipped him off," Loveland police Detective Paul Arreola testified at a July hearing. "He said that he had been hit several times, and he lunged out with the knife."
Defense attorneys said Shern was drunk, had been laid off earlier that day and had been cut off from further alcohol service at a Loveland bar earlier that night because he was drunk and aggressive. Townsend said police found several people who were verbally harassed by Shern and his two friends at the park before Walters arrived.
Townsend said Walters got out of the car and was immediately verbally confronted by Shern, who then began hitting him, knocking off Walters' glasses. Townsend said a friend handed Walters the sword for self defense before he got out.
"Mr. Walters said he was backed up against the car, and he didn't want to die," Townsend said. "It is clear Mr. Shern got up from the grass and approached Mr. Walters' car."
Townsend said Walters can't see well without his glasses, which Shern had broken, and swung the weapon only in an attempt to cut Shern's arm.
Before his arrest, Walters maintained a page on the social networking Web site MySpace featuring pictures of him with swords and knives and a video of him sword fighting with another man. Walters called himself "Cryptic King Lord Black Death" on the site. The account has since been deleted.
Prosecutor Christopher Rossi said in July the simple point is Walters got out of his car - he could have driven away at any time - with a weapon, which he eventually swung at Shern.
"At the end of the day, the defendant brought a knife to a fist fight," Rossi said.
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