I’m Thankful Client Was Armed, Defense Attorney Says

During a sentencing on Sept. 24, a defense attorney said he is thankful his client was armed. 

Mario Alfaro pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for shooting 22-year-old Jonathan Vilchez on the 5400 block of Georgia Avenue,  NW in 2017.

“I have grown to love him as a man and trust him with my own children unsupervised,” said Alfaro’s defense lawyer James King. “I’m thankful that Mario was armed that day, if he wasn’t, he would be dead.”

King said he has known Alfaro since he was a child. 

King also requested Alfaro, 23, be sentenced under the Youth Rehabilitation Act, which would have sealed his conviction from the public and made him eligible for a sentence that was lesser then the mandatory minimum. However, DC Superior Court Judge Dana Dayson denied the request, sentencing Alfaro to seven years in prison.

According to the District of Columbia voluntary sentencing guidelines, Alfaro could have received a sentence between 4 and 10 years in prison.

“I do not have the words to tell his son what happened,” Vilchez’s stepfather told the judge. “His son asks for him everyday. My wife was pregnant at the time of the shooting and we were about to lose the baby, after already losing a family member. We are scared that he will send someone to hurt my family, so we have decided to move due to fear. I’d like for justice to be served.” 

The prosecution said the defendant’s behavior caused the situation, refuting the self defense claim. According to court documents, Alfaro’s self defense claim was ruled out in 2017.

D.C. Witness data shows that Alfaro pleaded guilty to assault with significant bodily injury in 2015. He also pleaded guilty in July to attempted possession of a prohibited weapon. Apparently, Alfaro was caught with a shank in his cell in 2018, according to court documents.  

After his prison term, Alfaro is also required to serve five years on supervised release.

“I want to apologize to my family and the victim’s family, and hope God will forgive me,” Alfaro told the court.

According to court documents, surveillance footage showed Alfaro mouthing something to Vilchez, 22, while they were in a convenience store. Both men pulled out guns and Vilchez shot Alfaro, first.  As Alfaro left the store, he fired multiple shots at the decedent before running away. The defendant and the victim were allegedly in the same street gang.