A transient who stabbed a suspected pot thief to death two years ago in Folsom has pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and been sentenced to 12 years in state prison.
Joshua Allen Atkins, now 23, entered the plea in Sacramento Superior Court two weeks ago to the late-night Oct. 1, 2011, killing of Minor Anibal Leon, 19, of Folsom, according to court records. Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi imposed the sentence.
According to his probation report, Atkins was a homeless warehouse worker who had been selling and trading marijuana. He and Leon were in a group of about a half-dozen people who had gathered at the Round Table Pizza just before midnight when Atkins asked if anybody wanted to smoke some pot, the report said.
When Leon asked to see the marijuana Atkins kept in a Mason jar, as if he wanted to buy some, Atkins handed him the container. Then, according to the probation report as well as testimony at Atkins' preliminary hearing, Leon grabbed the jar and took off running.
Atkins, who had a serrated hunting knife in his backpack, armed himself with it. He caught up with Leon about a block away in front of a thrift store. When Leon stopped as if he were going to fight, Atkins stabbed him, the report said. Leon died in the 600 block of East Bidwell Street in Folsom. Investigators found the broken marijuana jar close by.
Folsom police who were responding to a report of a disturbance in the area quickly nabbed Atkins. The defendant told a police officer where he threw the knife, and he later said in his probation report that he never meant to kill anybody, that he just wanted his pot back.