UKIAH, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California man who fatally shot a family friend accused of molesting him for years was sentenced Tuesday to nine years in prison in the vigilante shooting.
Aaron Vargas, 32, was sentenced after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter in the death of 63-year-old Darrell McNeill.
Vargas said McNeill began sexually abusing him when he was 11 and continued harassing him into adulthood.
After the February 2009 killing, several other people, including McNeill's stepson, came forward to say McNeill had molested them.
Hundreds of supporters in Vargas' town of Fort Bragg asked authorities for leniency for the shooter.
Supporters of Vargas who packed the courtroom Monday called for the minimum sentence of probation, saying Vargas needed therapy and was not a threat.
Vargas faced a maximum of 10 years in prison. His defense lawyer had argued for probation.
Judge Ronald Brown said he imposed the harsher sentence because he believed Vargas had gone to McNeill's house with the intent to kill him, and that the use of violence to solve problems would only encourage more violence.
"The circumstances support the conclusion the defendant intended to kill the victim, and the method was intended to make the victim suffer," Brown said.
Authorities said Vargas drove to McNeill's home outside Fort Bragg and shot him in the chest with a Civil War-style pistol. Prosecutors said Vargas cursed McNeill and kicked him as he lay dying on the floor.
Vargas testified that he had a drinking problem and was in need of help.
"I have all sorts of regrets for that day, previous days and previous years," he said.
Vargas' fiancee, Selena Barnet, has testified that McNeill constantly called Vargas and insisted on seeing the couple's baby girl.
Prosecutors said Vargas had a history of violence and alcohol abuse.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
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