A Chicago man admitted beating his friend to death at his house party on New Year’s Eve, but was handed a light sentence, because he caught that man molesting a young girl.
Andy R. Vazquez, 23, pled guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder for killing Daniel Arriaga, 24, according to the Lake Forest Patch. Prosecutors agreed to a concurrent sentence of 40 months’ “periodic imprisonment” — work-release — and four years’ intensive probation.
Arriaga’s body was discovered beaten and left outside of Vazquez’s house in Northern Chicago during the early morning hours of Jan. 1. He died at a local hospital later that day. An autopsy revealed he was beaten to death, but hypothermia was a contributing factor, the Chicago Tribune reports, citing Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper.
Vazquez was arrested the next day and has been held in the Lake County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond ever since. He was charged with second-degree murder involving provocation, as well as with three counts of aggravated battery — which were all dismissed under the agreement.
Under Illinois law, a murder charge can be mitigated if the killer "is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation," defined as "conduct sufficient to excite an intense passion in a reasonable person."
During Tuesday’s plea proceeding in Lake County Circuit Court, Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said the facts of the case fit that definition.
He said that Vazquez was hosting a birthday party on New Year’s Eve, which Arriaga and a number of other men, woman and their children attended as guests.
When guests noticed Arriaga had been in a bathroom of the Vazquez home for a long time, Nerheim said, Vazquez entered the bathroom to check on him. That’s when Vazquez found Arriata sexually abusing a young female.
Vazquez responded to what he saw by beating Arraiga and throwing him out of his house. Outside, Vazquez beat Arriaga more, according to police and prosecutors. James Schwarzbach, Vazquez’s lawyer, said others were involved in the beating as well.
Nerheim, the prosecutor, said the case remains under investigation, and the conditions of Vazquez’s plea deal require him to testify truthfully at any hearings or trials if anyone else is prosecuted for Arriaga’s death.
The agreement also says Vazquez will get credit for time served. While in jail, Vazquez will be allowed to leave only for work or court-ordered activities. After 40 months, he’ll be subject to the remainder of his four-year intensive probation supervision period, including a 24-hour home curfew.
Vazquez was also ordered to complete 300 hours of public service and pay $5,000 in restitution.
“I think it’s a just resolution, considering the circumstances and facts of the case,” Nerheim said.
Schwarzbach agreed the deal was fair, the Tribune reported.
[Photo: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]