A Norristown man who killed his brother-in-law and severely wounded another man pleaded guilty to the attack in a deal that spared him from a life sentence in prison, officials said Wednesday.
Juan Tox Caal, 20, entered the plea to third-degree murder and attempted murder late Tuesday during a hearing in front of Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter. Carpenter sentenced him to 15 to 30 years in state prison for fatally stabbing Rolando Popsacul, 22, and seriously wounding Carlos Cocul, 27, a friend of Popsacul’s, at a family gathering in 2019.
At the time of his arrest, Caal was charged with first-degree murder, but prosecutors, led by Assistant District Attorney Allison Ruth, agreed to drop that more serious charge because Caal admitted his guilt and cooperated with the investigation.
His attorney, R. Emmett Madden, did not return a request for comment Wednesday.
The three men were attending a birthday party in September 2019 on the 500 block of Haws Avenue in Norristown when Caal and Popsacul began arguing about Caal’s decision to divorce Popsacul’s sister, witnesses told police. Cocul did not know Caal, and had attended the party at Popsacul’s invitation.
Just before 2 a.m., police were called to an intersection near the home where the party was held for a reported stabbing. There, officers found Popsacul and Cocul, both stabbed in the chest.
Popsacul died at the scene. Cocul was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center with a collapsed lung and internal bleeding.
In the hospital, Cocul told police he had been walking home from the party with Popsacul when Caal approached them and slashed them with a box cutter, authorities said. Video surveillance from the scene recorded the attack, as well as Caal fleeing, police said.
Later, during an interview with detectives, Caal admitted to stabbing the men, court records show.