Accused gunman pleads guilty in 12-year-old’s murder

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A fourth suspect admitted to his role in a 12-year-old Providence girl’s murder on Friday.

Branden Castro, 21, of Providence, pleaded guilty to murder in the shooting death of Aynis Vargas. Judge Robert Krause sentenced him to serve two consecutive life prison terms plus 50 years.

In court on Friday, a prosecutor read a victim impact statement written by Vargas’ father. “We will always remember our daughter Aynis as a happy child, she was full of life and love, as parents we never thought her life would be so short. She wrote in her school’s memory book that she wanted to grow up with her family, and to be happy.”

Vargas was shot and killed when a group of suspected gang members fired gunshots into a crowd of people attending a graduation party on Hartford Avenue last summer. In addition to Castro, the following Providence men were charged in Vargas’ killing: Ricardo Vasquez, 20, Angel Valerio, 19, and two different men named Luis Gonzalez, one 18; the other, 23.

Castro, who police believe was the gunman in the shooting, is the fourth suspect to plead guilty.

The younger Gonzalez pleaded guilty in March to three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy. He has not yet been sentenced.

Vasquez pleaded guilty last September to murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Valerio pleaded guilty to charges in April.

The elder Gonzalez is still awaiting his murder trial.

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