CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A Virginia teenager accused of bludgeoning his neighbor with a claw hammer and then scrawling gang graffiti in the victim's home has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.
It’s been more than a year since Marie Walker got the news that her ex-husband, 87-year-old Bryan Walker had been found dead in his Chesterfield County home. Police say 17-year-old Rafeal Angel Vargas beat him to death with a hammer.
“All of the family was so glad that this is now finally over," Marie Walker said.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Rafael Angel Vargas was sentenced on Tuesday for what the judge called a crime of extreme brutality.
Prosecutors say after the killing, Vargas returned to Walker’s home to make it appear like he was killed during a robbery by an MS-13 gang member.
Investigators found Masonic pins and cuff links belonging to the victim at the suspect’s home, according to court documents.
“It was so shocking because this was one the kindest gentlest persons in the history of the world," Marie said. “This young man destroyed two families with one horrendous act.”
Marie knew Bryan for 16 years. The two met at a Chesterfield Church and spent 12 years together as husband and wife.
“I always tell everybody that God put him on my pew," Marie said.
Marie described Bryan as one of the "nicest people in the world" and said he was a longtime member of Chesterfield's Preservation Committee.
"He loved Chesterfield County. He loved everybody there and that would just make him joyful," Marie said.
While the sentencing won’t bring Bryan back, Marie said she and family members now have closure and a little peace.
“I wish him the very best of luck. I’m not ready to forgive him yet, that’ll come later but Bryan's fine.," Marie said. "I know he’s in a good place.”
Chesterfield County honored Bryan in November with a monument bearing his name on the overlook of the Falling Creek Ironworks, which he helped preserve.