Freighter sailor pleads guilty to being fatally stabbed en route to Port of Los Angeles
A sailor aboard a large freighter off the coast of California has pleaded guilty in federal court to fatally stabbing a fellow crew member, saying he feared for his life.
Michael Dequito Monegro, 43, from the Philippines, stabbed his supervisor 17 times in the face and body with a pair of knives, then surrendered to the ship’s captain when it was clear the victim was dead, according to a federal affidavit.
The crime happened on September 20, 2020, after a two-week trip from Shanghai to Los Angeles. Monegro pleaded guilty on Monday in Los Angeles.
The incident placed the MSC Ravenna in danger, as it took the captain and crew away from crucial duties to a point where the ship was 80 miles from the Port of Los Angeles, according to the affidavit.
“An emergency on board a large ship usually strains the mental capacity of the captain, officers and crew members,” the affidavit reads. “An onboard emergency causes mental fatigue and is a source of stress and distraction for everyone involved. These constraints are exacerbated when officers and crew members fear that the captain will lose control of the vessel.
FLORIDA MAN STABATED MORE THAN 140 TIMES IN APPARENT DOMESTIC DISPUTE
Several crew members recounted seeing Monegro confront Manolito Santillan, saying, “It was you who destroyed my family.” Witnesses saw Monegro stab Santillan, knocking him to the ground.
Monegro then pulled out a second knife from his suit and unsheathed it with his teeth. He began stabbing Santillan with both knives, one in each hand, according to the affidavit.
The crew members threw trash cans at Monegro to stop the attack, but were unsuccessful. They heard Santillan say, “What’s going on, Michael? I hope the Lord forgives you. I’m dead, Michael.
The couple were due to disembark from Los Angeles and return home to the Philippines, where Monegro said he feared someone would kill him. Freighter crew members usually sign multi-month contracts and rarely disembark.
Monegro was taken into custody by the captain and locked in a cabin guarded by crew members. The ship docked in Los Angeles, where the coroner boarded and recovered Santillan’s body. A week later, FBI agents arrested Monegro, who remained locked in the cabin, according to the affidavit.
The crew was traumatized by the event.
“I saw a law enforcement officer pull out a knife to open a bag on the ship,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “The captain, who was present, seemed shaken by the sight of the knife on display and asked that it be put away immediately.”
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Monegro was initially charged with second-degree murder and committing an act of violence against a person on board a ship likely to endanger the safety of navigation. He pleaded guilty to the second charge in an agreement with the US Attorney’s office and will be sentenced on September 12. He faces a maximum of life in prison.