Gonzalez acquitted of murder in 12-year-old's killing
A Providence man was acquitted of murder and conspiracy charges in the shooting death of a 12-year-old girl, but convicted of lesser charges.
Luis "Fat Boy" Gonzalez, was found not guilty by a jury Tuesday of the most serious charges in the killing of Aynis Vargas who was attending a graduation party in Providence in June 2013 when she and three women were shot. The three women survived.
Gonzalez was found guilty of eight lesser charges, including felony assault and weapons charges. One of the charges, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death, carries a mandatory term of life in prison. The other charges carry prison terms of up to 130 years. A sentencing date has not been yet.
Gonzalez was expected to file an appeal on the decision for the lesser charges.
"Great relief but disappointment," said Robert Mann, Gonzalez's attorney. "I think it's sinking in. This has been a long process. I think when I said we are relieved, I was speaking for both of us that we were relieved that he was acquitted of the murder. Obviously disappointed that he was convicted of the many other counts."
Vargas's father was too upset to speak to reporters following the verdict.
"They're devastated," Assistant Attorney General Stacey Veroni said. "We just got off the phone with Aynis's mom coming up on the anniversary. Those words not guilty are very difficult for them to hear, but they are very respectful people and they respect the process."
Jurors were able to reach a verdict on the fourth day of deliberations.
Prosecutors said Gonzalez and four fellow gang members were seeking revenge for the killing of a friend and randomly targeted a graduation party at the Hartford Park housing complex in June 2013.
Gonzalez testified he was there but said he told the shooter, 22-year-old Branden "Blaze" Castro, not to target the party. He went as far as to say he was too fat to stop the shooter.
"If you were there, you saw (Gonzalez) crying during parts of the testimony," Mann said. "He's obviously very sorry. I know he was in tears at different points of the testimony and it was clear."
In April, Castro pleaded guilty to murder and other charges and was sentenced to two life sentences and an additional 50 years.
Three co-defendants have admitted to their roles in the shooting.
Angel Valerio, 19, pleaded guilty in April to assault with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy charges. Luis "Didi" Gonzalez, 18, pleaded guilty in March to assault charges. Vasquez, 21, pleaded guilty in September to murder and other charges and was sentenced to life in prison.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.