California Man Faces Life Sentence over Vigilante Slaying

On December 1, 2011, 36-year old Robert Vasquez waited in the bushes outside the Orange County, California trailer home that his intended victim, Bobby Ray Rainwater Jr. shared with his parents.  When the 54-year old Rainwater stepped outside the trailer to smoke a cigarette, Vasquez punched the back of his head.  He then stabbed him multiple times in the neck before fleeing the scene.  When police later arrived, they found that Rainwater had been nearly decapitated.   

Vasquez hid out at the home of a friend, Lance Lyons.   After warning Vasquez not to enter his grandmother's room without permission,  Lyons was then savagely attacked with a metal mallet.   He was saved from further injury when his brother intervened.    After police charged Robert Vasquez with assault, he was linked to the Rainwater murder.

Before being charged with first-degree murder, Vasquez told investigators that he killed Rainwater to protect his girlfriend since his mother told him the victim was a pedophile. ‘I like to try to protect my family. ... He's not going to go in there and rape my [expletive] chick," he said in describing his actions.     While Rainwater had been previously convicted of a sexual assault on an adult woman, he had never assaulted a child although neighbours expressed concern over a registered sexual offender in the area.

During the subsequent trial, Vasquez' defense attorney attempted to avoid his being convicted for first-degree murder although prosecutors described it as a clear act of vigilantism.    As part of the defense testimony,  the court heard from a UCLA psychology professor who stated that the accused had a history of mental problems including paranoia, schizoaffective disorder, and Asperger's syndrome.   In the year leading up to the murder, he was also abusing methamphetamine drugs.

On June 28 of this year, Robert Vasquez was found guilty of first-degree murder and is scheduled to be sentenced this August.   He is likely to receive a life sentence with no possibility of parole. 

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