UKIAH, Calif. (CBS/KPIX) A judge showed no mercy Tuesday in sentencing 32-year old Aaron Vargas to nine years in prison, for murdering the man he claimed sexually molested him as a child.
According to CBS affiliate KPIX, Vargas testified that 63-year-old Darrell McNeill sexually abused him when he was 11 and continued to pursue him into adulthood. Vargas shot McNeill in February 2009 with a Civil War-style pistol and watched him take his last breath while the victim's wife, Elizabeth McNeill, stood nearby.
Vargas, initially charged with murder, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in the killing and faced a maximum of 10 years in prison, reported KPIX. Following the death more than 10 men came forth claiming McNeill had sexually abused them, too, including McNeill's stepson. Hundreds of community supporters advocated for leniency in Vargas' case, claiming he was not a threat and needed psychological help, said KPIX.
However, Judge Ronald Brown believed Vargas went to McNeil's home with a single intent--the intent to kill.
"The circumstances support the conclusion the defendant intended to kill the victim, and the method was intended to make the victim suffer," Brown said. Brown continued to say that he could not overlook the use of violence to resolve problems, reported KPIX.
According to the station, psychiatrist Donald Apostle reported that Vargas had symptoms of sustained trauma. Court records indicated on the night of the shooting, Vargas' blood-alcohol content was almost twice the legal limit at .15. Though Vargas testified he didn't remember all the details of that fatal night, he recalled McNeill denied the sexual allegations, and then told McNeill he would not hurt anyone else, before Vargas then fired the gun, stated KPIX.
"It's not over. We're going to appeal," said Minday Galliani, brother of the Aaron Vargas. "It's clear that the justice system still doesn't have an understanding of childhood sexual abuse."
The Vargas family is considering an appeal and founding a nonprofit organization in his honor in hopes of aiding other victims of childhood sexual abuse.
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