PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Luis “Fat Boy” Gonzalez has been acquitted of murder in the shooting death of a Providence child.
Gonzalez, along with four other admitted gang members, was charged in connection with the June 2013 shooting in which 12-year-old Aynis Vargas was killed and three women were injured. His was the only case that made it to trial; the rest pleaded guilty to their respective roles.
After four days of deliberations, the jury handed down a verdict that cleared Gonzalez of both murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. He was convicted on several lesser charges, including: conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon; three counts of assault with a deadly weapon; discharging a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death; and three charges of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in injury.
The charge of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, death resulting carries a mandatory life sentence.
Gonzalez and his attorneys maintained his innocence throughout the trial. During his testimony last week, he admitted to being with the four admitted conspirators on the night of the shooting, but he said he was not involved in the execution of the crime. He also admitted to lying to police upon his first arrest, claiming he was afraid the police would “trick him.” He has been in custody since his arrest last July.
“We just got off the phone with Aynis’ mom, coming up on the anniversary of her death, those words ‘not guilty’ are very difficult for them to hear, but they are very respectful people and they respect the process,” said prosecutor Stacey Veroni.
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The acquittals come one day after jurors asked Judge Robert Krause to be hung on some of the charges brought against Gonzalez. Judge Krause, though, asked the jury to carry on with deliberations, saying it was their duty to decide the case.
Vargas was shot June 15 during a Hartford Avenue block party. Police said the shooting was the result of a longtime dispute between two neighborhood gangs. She was the youngest of 15 homicides victims in Providence in 2013.
Also charged in the crime are:
- Branden Castro: Castro admitted to being the gunman. He was sentenced to two life sentences plus an additional 50 years.
- Ricardo Vasquez: Vasquez admitted to driving to and from the shooting scene. He was sentenced to life in prison.
- Angel Valerio: Valerio accepted a plea deal that dropped the murder charge against him. He pleaded guilty to multiple assault counts and conspiracy. He is awaiting sentencing.
- Luis “Didi” Gonzalez: Fat Boy’s younger brother, Didi accepted a similar plea deal to that of Valerio, pleading guilty to assault and conspiracy counts. He is awaiting sentencing.