Gonzalez guilty plea gets him

17 years for Pilkington murder

By Jeff Arnold

Ft. Smith Times Record

A Fort Smith man was sentenced in Sebastian County Circuit Court to 17 years in prison on Dec. 17, after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in the stabbing death of an acquaintance.

Daniel Gonzalez, 38, was sentenced to an additional five years in prison for theft of property, for taking Shon Pilkington's car after fatally stabbing the 35 year-old late Sept. 9 or early Sept. 10, 2003. He also was given an additional 13-year suspended sentence on the murder charge.

Gonzalez's prison terms will run consecutively. He must serve 70 percent of his sentence for first-degree murder before he begins serving five years for theft.

Police arrived at Pilkington's apartment on Sept. 10, 2003, after being contacted by a friend, who became worried about him when he did not arrive at work. Pilkington's neighbors told her they had heard a disturbance in his apartment.

When officers entered the apartment, they found Pilkington's body covered in blood, according to a police report.

A downstairs neighbor told police she last spoke with Pilkington about 5:30 p.m. Sept. 9, 2003, and he told her an old acquaintance named Daniel was coming over for dinner and he was going to buy a bottle of wine so they could catch up on lost time.

Another neighbor told police they heard a disturbance in Pilkington's apartment about 11:30 p.m. Sept. 9, 2003, that sounded like someone dropping a large piece of furniture. About an hour later, a dark-skinned man exited Pilkington's apartment, got into Pilkington's 1985 Mercury Cougar and drove away, according to a police report.

Police located Gonzalez in the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2003, and found Pilkington's car in a nearby apartment complex parking lot.

Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tabor said he discussed the case, the process and possible defenses with Pilkington's family, and several proposed plea deals were rejected by the family and the defense before the plea agreement announced Friday was reached.

Tabor said it is still not clear what events led to the stabbing.

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