After the man accused of raping her dying niece was sentenced to just 34 months in prison, Rachelle Palmer wasn’t happy.
“You might as well let him walk free with that kind of time,” Palmer, 32, told The Herald after the sentencing on Thursday.
Brian Roberto Varela had pleaded guilty to second degree manslaughter, unlawful disposal of remains and third degree rape after police say he raped 18-year-old Alyssa Noceda and then left her to die in Lynnwood, Washington, according to KOMO News.
Police say Varela, then 19 years old, was hosting a party in his mobile home in February when Noceda took painkillers and a concentrated form of liquid THC at the party before passing out, according to a police affidavit obtained by Buzzfeed News at the time.
But he didn’t seek out help for the girl, the police report says, according to The Herald.
Instead, his friends said Varela allegedly had sex with Noceda, police say.
“LOL I think she od’d, still breathing. I’m smashing her to pass the time,” he allegedly texted friends in a group chat along with pictures of the girl, who had swollen blue lips, according to The Herald.
The day after hosting the party, police say, Varela went to his job at Dairy Queen.
When he got there, the 19-year-old from Lynnwood bragged to a coworker about what he did the night before, according to court documents obtained by The Herald. Varela allegedly talked about having sex with a girl who was dying from a drug overdose, the co-worker later told police, and how he put her body in a plastic crate that he planned to bury.
Once the coworker looked up the girl on Facebook — and saw her mother post about how she was missing — he went to police on Tuesday, according to The Herald. Police went to Varela’s mobile home just two hours later and found the body of 18-year-old Alyssa Mae Noceda, her legs broken to fit in the crate, Buzzfeed News reported.
Varela, now 20, apologized for what he did in court, according to KOMO News.
“I’m sorry for my foolish actions,” he said, according to the outlet. “Whatever I get is what I deserve.”
The punishment he received on Thursday — 34 months — was the harshest he could receive under current law, Superior Court Judge Linda Krese said, according to The Herald.
But Noceda’s mother, Gina Pierson, didn’t seem to believe that justice had been served, according to KOMO News.
“It’s a joke,” she said, according to KOMO News. “Usually people who do stuff like this don’t get away with a slap on the wrist.”
But she’s not alone: Even Krese was unhappy with her ability to punish Varela, per The Associated Press.
“I’m not sure the Legislature really contemplated something like this,” she said in court, adding that she was “surprised, even outraged,” that she couldn’t do more, according to The Associated Press.