A Washington state man was sentenced to 34 months in prison Thursday for raping an 18-year-old woman as she died of an overdose, texting pictures of her semi-nude body and attempting to cover up the crime.
The state’s sentencing guidelines constrained Judge Linda Krese of Snohomish County Superior Court because they took into account that the offender, Brian Varela, 20, of Lynnwood, Washington, had no prior record, The (Everett, Wash.) Daily Herald reported.
Krese was “surprised, even outraged” that law required such a sentence, according to The Herald.
Varela pleaded guilty to manslaughter, rape and unlawful disposal of remains charges in connection with the Feb. 3 death of Alyssa Noceda, who overdosed in his bedroom, KOMO-TV, Seattle, reported. Lynnwood, a suburb of about 40,000, is 15 miles north of Seattle.
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Noceda of nearby Everett took drugs in his room that night, some of which he provided, Varela told detectives, according to The Herald report. Tests later showed she had taken a fatal mix of fentanyl and alprazolam, a generic name for Xanax
After Noceda passed out, Varela didn’t call for help, instead texting comments and photos of her partially nude body to co-workers, according to court documents cited by KOMO-TV.
“LOL I think she od’d, still breathing,” one of the texts read, according to KOMO-TV.
Varela texted that he was sexually assaulting Noceda “to pass the time,” according to The Herald. He was accused of later playing an online game and falling asleep, awaking to find Noceda cold and lifeless.
“You might as well let him walk free with that kind of time,” Noceda’s aunt, Rachelle Palmer said of Varela’s sentence, according to The Herald.
“It’s a joke,” Noceda’s mother, Gina Pierson said, according to KOMO-TV.
In Washington state, offenders’ sentences are determined in part using a scoring system that takes into account a number of factors, including previous offenses, Newsweekreported.
That system traces its roots to the state’s Sentencing Reform Act of 1981, which was designed to make sentences more uniform by giving judges less discretion, according to a 2016 blog post from Washington state lawyer Chris Van Vechten.
The judge in Varela’s case criticized the constraints: “I’m not sure the Legislature really contemplated something like this,” Krese said.
Varela reportedly apologized for the crime.
“I’m sorry for my foolish actions. Whatever I get is what I deserve,” he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Joel Shannon on Twitter: @JoelShannon91
Alyssa Noceda, 18, of Everett, Washington, died of a drug overdose Feb. 3, 2018, but as she died in the bedroom of Brian Varela, 20, of Lynnwood, he raped her and texted semi-nude photos of her. This photo is from her Twitter account, @AlassasStoned.
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