POSTED: Friday, January 13, 2012 - 10:39pm
UPDATED: Saturday, January 14, 2012 - 12:42pm
DOWNTOWN EL PASO- Friday afternoon a jury convicted Darrel Brown of manslaughter and handed down his punishment of 20 years in prison. Brown used his truck to hit and kill 22-year-old Fernando Vargas after a bar fight in November, 2010.
Brown's defense team says they were prepared for the worst.
The 20 year sentence is the same as the 20 years he was offered in a plea bargain before the trial began. Meanwhile, the family of the victim, Fernando Vargas, says no punishment can bring him back.
"It's been hard because it's not going to be enough . They're not going to bring my brother back,” said Rozio Vargas.
The Vargas family will continue to grieve, but they’re grateful for the guilty verdict.
"We just hope that justice is made and they could bring a little bit of peace to my mom, and my brother can rest in peace,” said Rozio Vargas.
Prosecutors say Darrell Brown was his own worst enemy in this trial.
"The most damning witness in this trial was the defendant's own confession, in which he said he ran down Fernando Vargas because he was mad,” said Prosecutor Kevin Schulz.
The defense had argued that Brown acted in self-defense when he ran Vargas over with his truck.
"It was a difficult case from the get-go. Our client Darrel Brown got attacked in a bar. The jury felt he overreacted in his actions when he hit and killed a man with his vehicle. We felt it was self-defense,” said Brown’s attorney Sheldon Myers.
The jury disagreed.
"They decided this was not self-defense, and in fact that this defendant caused the death of Fernando Vargas without justification,” said Schulz.
After the sentencing, Vargas' sister spoke to Brown for the first time. She told Brown that her brother Fernando was not a racist, and didn't fight him because of his skin color. The defense had argued race was a key motive.
"A bunch of people are in a bar. There's one guy involved in the whole altercation. Three or four of the other guys single him out and attack him primarily initially. He is the target. He's the only black guy, so you got to think it's got to have something to do with race,” said Myers.
Vargas' daughter, now five years old, will grow up without her father.
"She asks for her dad every day, and she tells us that what can she do to go with her dad because she doesn't really get it,” said Rozio Vargas.
Police escorted the Vargas family out of the courtroom for their own protection after members of the Brown family began to taunt them.
Darrel Brown will be eligible for parole in 10 years, at age 30.