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California woman pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter in aunt's stabbing death

Gina Drake, 51, pleaded guilty Tuesday to voluntary manslaughter in the 2009 stabbing death of her aunt Wendy Di Rodio, 61, in Ventura, California.

A California woman accused of stabbing her aunt to death pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter on Tuesday.

Gina Drake in the Ventura County Superior Courthouse on February 20, 2018.
Gina Drake in the Ventura County Superior Courthouse on February 20, 2018.Dateline NBC

The defendant, 51-year-old Gina Drake, had been awaiting trial for killing her aunt Wendy Di Rodio in 2009. On June 3, 2009, Di Rodio was found stabbed to death in her locked bedroom of her parents’ home in Ventura, California. Di Rodio was 61 years old.

The plea agreement comes nearly six years after Drake’s 2012 arrest for the killing. Since her arrest, Drake had been mostly out of custody on bond. She had maintained her innocence through multiple court delays. The trial had been scheduled to begin in March.

Wearing a blue blouse, boots and jewelry in the Ventura County Superior Courthouse, Drake admitted to the unlawful killing of her aunt. Under the terms of the agreement, Drake is expected to be sentenced to 11 years in state prison. The sentencing is scheduled for March 29 in the Ventura County Superior Courthouse. Until then, Drake remains free on bond.

Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Rameen Minoui read portions of the agreement in the crowded courtroom. Drake confirmed she changed her plea without coercion.

Weeks before Di Rodio was killed, her neighbors Brock and Davina Husted were murdered in their home down the street, as Dateline has previously reported. Three lives lost in the same coastline community caused many to wonder if the deaths were coincidental or connected. Investigators eventually concluded no evidence tied Di Rodio’s death with the Husted murders.