A 41-year-old man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and other charges for the 2018 fatal shooting of a 27-year-old father of three, an acquaintance from their native Dominican Republic, after an argument at a pool hall in Long Island, New York, degraded into bloodshed.
Alejandro Vargas-Diaz pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and other charges for the 2018 fatal shooting of Albert Luis Rodriguez-Lopez at DMB Billiards in Port Jefferson, according to a news release from Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney.
“For five years, the relatives and loved ones of Mr. Rodriguez-Lopez have waited for justice for this senseless murder. Today, with his admission of guilt, justice has been served,” Tierney said in a statement. “While the defendant may have prolonged his freedom by hiding out in another state, it was only a matter of time before the law caught up with him, and now, he is being held to account for his actions.”
It went down on July 22, 2018. During the argument, the victim punched Vargas-Diaz in the face, knocking him to the ground, prosecutors said.
Vargas-Diaz ambushed him in the pool hall, fatally shooting him in the back, neck, and shoulder, then left New York State. A month later, police found the murder weapon — a 9 mm pistol — stashed in a tree at the Setauket Port Jefferson Greenway Trail and a murder warrant was issued for his arrest in August.
Nearly three years after the killing, Vargas-Diaz was arrested by a U.S. Marshal’s Task Force in Florida on a tip to crime stoppers. Authorities charged him locally with carrying a concealed firearm and possession of a fictitious identification card.
On Nov. 11, 2021, Vargas-Diaz was extradited to Suffolk County.
On Monday, he pleaded guilty to the murder and a charge of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, prosecutors said.
His sentencing is set for Sept. 13. He faces 23 years to life in prison.
His attorney Christopher Brocato told Law&Crime his client let his emotions get the best of him, ending in a tragic result.
“He’s come to the realization that what he did was life-altering, not only for the victim but also for himself and his family and the victim’s family,” Brocato said. “One five-minute span changed the lives of a lot of people.”
Family members put out an emotional plea for help to find the killer a year after the incident when a $5,000 reward was offered for information leading to the killer. The victim, a father of three young children, was described as humble.
“My heart is broken,” said his mother, Luz Lopez, through tears. “Nobody’s happy now.”
Details about what the argument was about were not disclosed.
“It doesn’t matter what the argument was about,” the victim’s brother Jason Rodriguez said at the news conference then. “Nobody deserves to lose their life over a petty argument.”
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Alejandro Vargas-Diaz killed Albert Luis Rodriguez-Lopez
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