Virginia teen gets 35 years in neighbor's hammer bludgeoning

Spate of illnesses leads to new prison mail, visit policies
Posted at 8:23 PM, Jul 29, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A Virginia teenager convicted of murder in the claw hammer bludgeoning death of his elderly neighbor has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Rafael Angel Vargas was sentenced in a Chesterfield County court for what the judge called a crime of extreme brutality, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Vargas was accused of killing Bryan H. Walker, one of Chesterfield County's leading advocates for historic preservation.

The judge said Tuesday that Vargas consciously sought out "a protector of the neighborhood and the community" before bludgeoning him four times with the hammer inside his greater Richmond area home on April 2, 2019. Vargas, now 18, was 16 at the time.

Prosecutors said that after the killing, Vargas returned to Walker's home to scrawl graffiti and make it appear Walker was killed during a robbery by a gang member.

Vargas pleaded guilty to the slaying in January. A related robbery charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement.

After rejecting a defense plea to commit Vargas for mental health treatment, the judge sentenced Vargas to 60 years in prison with 25 years suspended on his conviction of first-degree murder. He is to serve all 35 years of active time as an adult.