INDIO (CNS) – A 41-year-old felon was sentenced to 26 years to life in
state prison today for killing his father’s girlfriend in Thermal, a
Riverside County Superior Court Judge ruled today.
Raul Alcantar Sanchez Jr. was found legally sane and convicted of
murder in October for killing 34-year-old Carolina Vargas in November 2012
Sanchez appeared for sentencing at the Larson Justice Center on
Friday, where Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony Villalobos
sentenced him to 26 years to life in state prison.
“Someone can understand that something is illegal but still believe
they are morally doing the right thing,” Sanchez’s attorney, Kimberly Allee,
said in her closing statement for the sanity phase.
Allee said her client could not comprehend the gravity of his actions
because of his psychoses. She said Sanchez was given to hallucinations and
hearing voices, obliterating his ability to realize repercussions or the
morality of his decisions.
Sanchez stabbed Vargas approximately 120 times, including over 50
times in the face and neck.
Allee tried to cast doubt on the credibility of a doctor who testified
that her client was not psychotic during the attack, referring instead to
medical reports that did find him mentally incompetent.
Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse told jurors that Sanchez
was looking for a way out of responsibility for the slaying, and that he
knew what he was doing the entire time.
In her trial brief, the prosecutor quoted the defendant threatening
the victim, telling her, “I’m gonna open you and eat your insides.”
Lofthouse said Sanchez threatened the victim multiple times, showing
he had a clear intent to kill Vargas and “affirmed that intent with each stab
The prosecutor noted that Sanchez spoke to his father days after the
killing and apologized for perpetrating it, reflecting normal reasoning in
comprehension of the difference between right and wrong.
According to Lofthouse, there was planning and sophistication revealed
in the defendant’s decision-making, including the fact that he waited for
his father to be away before following through with his threats against Vargas.
Sanchez resented her presence and behavior toward him in the close
confines of the mobile home the three occupied in the 85000 block of Middleton
Street, according to trial testimony.
The attack happened on Nov. 21, 2012, while the elder Sanchez was out
of the house.
The defendant cornered Vargas inside the doublewide and used a
screwdriver and knife to inflict the dozens of deadly puncture wounds.
Sheriff’s deputies found Vargas’ body inside the residence soon
afterward and arrested Sanchez near the scene, wearing pants covered in her
blood, according to the prosecution.
“This is a disordered thought process. This is psychosis,” Allee said.
She told jurors that her client had a history of psychosis, a fact
borne out by his commitment to a state mental hospital, where he underwent
clinical treatment that culminated in findings that his mental fitness had been
restored, at which point he was placed in the John Benoit Detention Center in
Indio to await criminal proceedings, according to court papers.
Sanchez’s prior felony convictions include burglary, vandalism and
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