ITHACA, N.Y.—An Elmira man has pleaded guilty in connection with the car crash that killed well-known local musician Joseph L. Arguello in March 2022.

Jonathan A. Roberts, 32 years old, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum indeterminate sentence of 5-15 years in state prison. According to a press release from District Attorney Matthew Van Houten, Roberts waived his right to an appeal, and “no promises were made” regarding the sentence length.

Roberts had also been charged with reckless driving, criminally negligent homicde and leaving the scene of a personal injury incident without reporting. Van Houten stated that the second-degree manslaughter charge, a class C felony, was the most severe of the charges.

The crash occurred early on March 19, 2022 in Newfield. Roberts admitted to driving a motor vehicle while impaired, causing the crash that killed Arguello. According to reports at the time, Roberts fled the scene after the crash but was found on foot several hours later.

Arguello, who went by his middle name Leon, was well-known and well-liked in the local music scene. He played several instruments, including bass guitar, drums and guitar and did music production. Arguello played with Angie Beeler, local bands Double Tiger, Cantina Ramblers and The 86ers, among other artists. He had moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and spent time between there and the Ithaca area, where his two children live who he shared with Beeler.

Roberts posted bail, and will be sentenced on April 21, 2023 at 11 a.m. before Judge John Rowley of the Tompkins County Court. The case was prosecuted by Van Houten.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at