Aaron Vargas, 32, of Ukiah, California was sentenced to 9 years in prison. What was his crime? He shot a man named Darrell McNeill. Was the judge correct in giving this sentence or should Aaron Vargas have received no time in prison for killing McNeill? Darrell McNeill was a child molester and Vargas was 1 of his victims.
The sick saga of Darrell McNeill and Aaron Vargas began when Vargas was 11 years old. That’s when Darrell McNeill started molesting Vargas. McNeill continued to stalk Aaron Vargas for the rest of his life. Tracking Vargas down when he moved, finding his work places, calling him at home a dozen times a day, Vargas could not escape his molester.
Aaron Vargas tried to get on with his life. He had a girlfriend and they had a baby daughter. His girlfriend, Selena Barnet, told the court that McNeill was insisting on baby-sitting the couple’s baby girl. Was that the final act that drove this man to commit murder?
Vargas had turned to alcohol and drugs, presumably to cope with the abuse he had endured. He was not a lone victim of McNeill. About a dozen men, including McNeill’s stepson came forward to say that they had been victims of abuse by Darrell McNeill too.
Vargas met with some of the alleged victims of McNeill about 3 days before the shooting. On the night of the shooting Vargas had been drinking and remembers McNeill denying Vargas’s accusations. Vargas shot Darrell McNeill with a Civil War type pistol. He shot him and watched him die.
Judge Ronald Brown said that Vargas had intent to kill on his mind when he went to McNeill and that he (the judge) couldn’t condone 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.
Aaron Vargas, victim since the age of 11, spent his life running from McNeill and numbing his pain with alcohol abuse. When Vargas tried to make a life for himself, McNeill was always there. Was Vargas just protecting himself and his little daughter? Is it ever okay to take the law into your own hands and deliver punishment? After 20 years of molestation and abuse, should the judge have given Aaron Vargas a lesser sentence or probation?
Darrell McNeill was a husband, father, business man and a volunteer for the Boy Scouts. He was well liked in the community. But that was before the “secrets” came out after the shooting. The town rallied behind Vargas. In a 20/20 interview Vargas told “20/20” he doesn’t see himself as a hero or a vigilante.
If you were the judge, what would your sentence be for Aaron Vargas killing Darrell McNeill?
abc 20/20 story