Morro Bay man sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter

Sean Maneely

A judge sentenced a Morro Bay man to six years in prison on Thursday for a manslaughter conviction stemming from a fight earlier this year in which he stabbed and killed a former friend.

On Jan. 25, Sean Christopher Maneely, 53, and Andrew McTaggart, 58, began arguing loudly at a Morro Bay storage unit in the 1100 block of Allesandro Street. A physical fight ensued, and Maneely stabbed McTaggart in the chest. McTaggart later died of his injuries.

Police officers arrested Maneely, and SLO County prosecutors charged him with second-degree murder. A subsequent investigation showed Maneely did not act with the implied malice required for a murder conviction, according to the SLO County District Attorney’s Office. 

Maneely was scheduled to stand trial this month. But about a week before the trial was due to begin, Maneely pleaded no contest to felony manslaughter, as well as to an enhancement for using a knife.

The enhancement could have added an additional year to Maneely’s prison term, but Judge Tim Covello opted to sentenced Maneely to just the six years for the manslaughter conviction. 

Ilan Funke-Bilu, Maneely’s attorney, has described the killing of McTaggart as an unfortunate accident involving two friends. Maneely was inside his storage unit playing music when he was approached by McTaggart and an altercation ensued, Funke-Bilu said of the incident. 

The defense attorney also said McTaggart had past incidents of violence, which Funke-Bilu intended to present had the case gone to trial.