PENDLETON — A Walla Walla man has pleaded guilty in the 2018 shooting death of his co-worker at a dairy outside of Umapine.
Antonio Vasquez-Vargas, 55, was sentenced on Tuesday, May 18, to 20 years in state prison for first-degree manslaughter and a consecutive 2½ years for possessing a weapon as a convicted felon, court records show.
He also will serve 2½ years under post-prison supervision, documents show.
He pleaded guilty in the fatal shooting of Renee Luiz-Antonio, of Milton-Freewater, who was Vasquez-Vargas’ co-worker, according to news reports.
“Ultimately I am really pleased with this case,” said Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus. “You’re talking about a victim’s family that can move forward at this point.”
The guilty plea makes this the second time Vasquez-Vargas has killed a person, news reports show. In 1999, the Union-Bulletin reported that Vasquez-Vargas was sentenced to two years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide.
The years-long case against Vasquez-Vargas was an especially long process because he was provided new counsel just before his trial date and because of mental health evaluations that needed to be conducted, Primus said.
“I would not say this was average,” he said. “But every case is unique. Every case has different circumstances that you have to address.”
Plea deal negotiations in the last week resulted in murder charges against Vasquez-Vargas being dismissed, according to Primus and court documents. If Vasquez-Vargas was sentenced for murder, he would have received 25 years to life in prison.
Primus said he was ultimately satisfied with the result of the negotiations, especially for the victim’s family, but added “in any negotiation, for it to be successful you have to come to an agreement, but both sides will always want more than they get.”
The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Kennewick Police Department each contributed to the investigation, Primus said. A restitution in the case has yet to be determined, court documents show.