Albert Clark Receives 45-Year Sentence in Vargas Death Case

In a courtroom in West Palm Beach, two families shared their emotions on Friday: one seeking justice for Angel Vargas, and the other pleading for leniency for the man who killed him.

Judge Howard Coates decided on a sentence between the two sides, giving 33-year-old Albert Clark 45 years in prison. This marked the end of a long legal saga that included two murder trials this year after the first ended without a verdict. The sentence was shorter than what prosecutors wanted but much longer than what Clark’s defense argued for.

Clark was convicted of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and shooting into an occupied vehicle in April, following a week-long trial. The incident began in a busy Kmart parking lot where Vargas and Carlos Hernandez met Clark to look at a Ford F-150 he had advertised for sale online. The deal fell apart, leading to conflicting accounts of what happened next.

Hernandez claimed Clark led them to a secluded area and demanded money, eventually shooting Vargas and injuring Hernandez as they tried to escape. Clark testified that the men followed him and trapped him, forcing him to defend himself with a rifle.

Clark’s self-defense argument didn’t prevent charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder, but it did sway jurors to convict him of manslaughter instead. This spared him a life sentence but ensured a lengthy term in prison.

During sentencing, Clark apologized to Vargas’ family and his own, expressing regret for the incident. His defense highlighted his troubled upbringing and lack of prior serious offenses, contrasting his case with similar manslaughter convictions in Florida.

Prosecutors emphasized Clark’s actions after the shooting, including fleeing from police and lying to them, arguing they showed a lack of remorse or fear at the time of the incident.

The sentencing hearing featured emotional testimony from both families, underscoring the profound impact of Vargas’ death. Clark’s sentence, if upheld, means he will be an elderly man upon release.

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