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Tyler man pleads guilty in death of man stabbed 22 times

Humberto Leal (Source: Smith County Jail)
Humberto Leal (Source: Smith County Jail)
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 4:54 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A Tyler man has pleaded guilty in connection with the 2019 stabbing death of Rene Maruffo-Canstaneda, who was stabbed 22 times.

On Thursday, Humberto Lauro Leal pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder. Leal agreed to 32 years in prison. However, the formal sentencing will take place Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Leal was arrested in June 2019 after the death of Maruffo-Canstaneda. A Smith County deputy found the victim dead and covered in blood inside an SUV that was running with its lights on in the driveway of a house in the 1500 block of County Road 328. Leal first told Smith County deputies that he stabbed Maruffo-Canstaneda in self-defense after the other man shot him, according to an arrest affidavit.

The crime scene investigation found blood spatter inside the SUV, though Leal said the whole incident took place outside the vehicle. Leal claimed that Maruffo-Cansteneda was standing when he shot at him, but evidence also showed that all the gunshot rounds were shot at an upward angle, according to the arrest affidavit.

The document shows Leal also claimed he believed he stabbed Castaneda four times, but an autopsy revealed 22 stab wounds.

Leal later admitted to having a longtime feud with Castaneda and a fight six months before the stabbing. He also admitted to lying about Castaneda’s position during the shooting and said Castaneda was on the ground when he fired the gun and then tried to get inside the vehicle. Leal admitted to chasing Castaneda around the vehicle and stabbing him multiple times, according to the affidavit.

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