REDWOOD CITY -- A man avoided life in prison without the possibility of parole Wednesday when he pleaded no contest to fatally stabbing an acquaintance he mistakenly believed was having an affair with his wife.

However, Laungatasi Samana Ahio's plea to the first degree murder of Jared Afu, 19, on the Mills High School campus means the 23-year-old defendant will get 25 years to life in prison, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Ahio, of Millbrae, is slated for sentencing July 11 and remains behind bars without bail.

Ahio turned himself into police a day after the Aug. 4, 2010, killing, which happened at night near the school's tennis courts. Investigators had found a trail of blood from the scene to a church two blocks away, where they discovered Ahio's identification in a backpack and a knife.

Police initially said Ahio attacked because he believed Afu had become intimate with his wife. "He believed it, but it wasn't true," Wagstaffe said.

Defense attorney Ed Pomeroy declined to make any comment on the case before sentencing.

The case against Ahio was repeatedly delayed due to doubts he was mentally competent to stand trial. In June 2012 he was committed to Napa State Hospital, but in January, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge John Grandsaert ruled he was well enough to defend himself and the case resumed.

In return for Ahio's plea, prosecutors dropped a special circumstance allegation that he was lying in wait at the time of the killing. It carried life in prison without parole.


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Afu was studying at Skyline College in San Bruno and had plans to become an engineer when he was killed.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.