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Crime

Seattle man Brian Varela raped teenager Alyssa Noceda as she was dying. His sentence: 34 months

  • Even the judge in Brian Varela’s case expressed disbelief that the maximum term allowed under Washington state law was less than three years
  • Varela, who admitted Alyssa Noceda may already have been dead when he raped her, stuffed her body in a box and snapped her leg in the process
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 5:56am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 5:58am

The teenager lying in Brian Varela’s bed had snorted “a fat line” of crushed Percocet. She seemed “really out of it” while Varela was having sex with her, he later told police, tilting his head and rolling his eyes to the back of his head to show detectives what he meant by “really out of it.”

Afterward, she snorted more Percocet, and then Varela gave the girl a hit of highly concentrated THC, according to a probable cause affidavit.

She collapsed within seconds and never woke up. Varela grabbed his cellphone and Googled “what to do if someone overdoses on perks.” The top search results told him to call 911, but Varela did no such thing; instead, he took pictures of the 18-year-old lying unconscious and half-naked in his bed, barely breathing.

He sent the photos to his friends in a group chat and bragged that he had sex with her, court records say.

“She looks dead,” one friend said.

“Bro you killed her,” the same friend said moments later.

Varela went on to play video games and then fell asleep.

He woke up the next morning to find foam coming out of the girl’s mouth. Blood had dripped out of her nose. Her body was cold.

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Varela summoned his roommate and a friend, who checked the teen’s pulse and felt nothing. Call the police, his roommate told Varela – but again, he didn’t. He got dressed, locked his room and went to work in the Seattle suburb of Lynnwood.

Alyssa Noceda died sometime between that Saturday night, February 3, when she came to Varela’s trailer for a party, and the following morning. Varela admitted to a friend that he wasn’t sure whether Noceda was alive or dead while he was having sex with her, court records say.

I’m not sure the Legislature really contemplated something like this
Snohomish Superior Court Judge Linda Krese, on maximum sentencing rules

Varela, who was 19 at that time of Noceda’s death, was charged with first-degree manslaughter, second-degree rape and unlawful disposal of remains. He was sentenced last week after a plea deal and will spend less than three years in prison – a punishment that many, including the judge presiding over the case, saw as far too lenient.

Even some auto theft cases had more serious penalties, Snohomish Superior Court Judge Linda Krese said during the sentencing hearing. But, she noted, she was bound by state law to keep the punishment to 34 months – the maximum allowed under the circumstances for someone without a criminal record.

Krese said she was “surprised, even outraged.”

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“I’m not sure the Legislature really contemplated something like this,” the judge said of Washington state’s sentencing laws, according to the Daily Herald.

A seemingly lenient sentence for a violent crime such as rape is not unheard of. Punishments are typically lessened as a result of a plea agreement or lack of criminal history. In Varela’s case, his plea deal lowered the manslaughter charge to a second-degree felony, and the rape charge to a third-degree felony.

Among the most notorious recent cases is that of Stanford University sex offender Brock Turner, whose six-month jail sentence after a sexual-assault conviction prompted nationwide outrage and the recall of the judge who imposed the punishment. A jury had convicted Turner of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside a frat house.

Usually people who do stuff like this don’t get away with a slap on the wrist
Gina Pierson, mother of Alyssa Noceda

Sentencing disparities are not unheard of, either, even in cases that involve similar crimes. In 2016, a Montana man who repeatedly raped his 12-year-old daughter was sentenced to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to one count of incest. That same year, a California man who repeatedly raped his teenage daughter was sentenced to 1,503 days in prison after a jury convicted him of 186 felony charges.

Toni Montgomery, a deputy prosecutor in Varela’s case, condemned him for his “complete disregard” for Noceda’s life. But, she said, “34 months is really the only sentence that would be appropriate, given the current sentencing structure,” Montgomery said in court, the Daily Herald reported.

Montgomery did not immediately respond to a request for comment but told The New York Times that Washington state does not typically criminalise neglecting to seek medical help for someone, unless they are that person’s parent, or the person is elderly, pregnant or a child. A first-degree manslaughter charge, which along with a rape conviction would have resulted in a 10-year prison sentence for Valera, would have been difficult to prove in a trial, Montgomery said; so prosecutors chose to negotiate a plea deal, she said.

“It sort of is beyond the pale morally, when you think about it,” Montgomery told The Times. “You can sit here and watch someone die and do nothing and the law cannot hold you criminally liable.”

Paul Thompson, Varela’s attorney, also was not immediately available for comment. He told The Times that Varela was “sentenced to the high end of the crimes for which he was actually convicted.”

Standing next to his lawyer during his sentencing, wearing a striped green and white prison garb, Varela, now 20, apologised for his “foolish actions.”

“Whatever I get is what I deserve,” he told the judge.

Sitting behind him were Noceda’s friends and family members, many of whom wore black T-shirts bearing a picture of Noceda between angel’s wings.

The teen’s mother, Gina Pierson, called the punishment “a joke.”

“Usually people who do stuff like this don’t get away with a slap on the wrist,” she told KOMO News.

On Pierson’s Facebook page are several pictures and quotes about her daughter.

“Addiction is a disease, not a parenting error,” reads one quote.

On another post, she wrote: “My first LOVE. My first born … RIP Ali Mae (Alyssa Noceda) … You were too damn good for this world …”

On February 5, two days after Noceda went to Varela’s trailer, her mother posted on Facebook that she had not seen or heard from her daughter since 8pm on February 3, court records say. At that time, her daughter’s body was still in the trailer.

On February 4, after returning home from work at a Dairy Queen, Varela washed Noceda to rid her body of his DNA and put some of her clothes back on, court records show. He then placed her body in a large plastic crate he got from his mother’s house, breaking her leg to fit her in the box, records say.

Two days later, Varela was arrested after a co-worker Varela had told about Noceda’s overdose contacted police. Officers found the teen’s body in the box, still inside the bedroom. Varela had planned to bury her that day, he told detectives.

Pierson and her family told reporters that they plan to challenge the state’s sentencing laws.

“I’ll just keep thinking I’ll never see her again,” she told ABC affiliate KOMO.