The San Juan Capistrano man who fatally stabbed his neighbor because the victim creeped out his girlfriend and was falsely labeled a child molester by the killer's mother was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole plus eight more years.
A jury in June found 36-year-old Robert Eugene Vasquez guilty of felony special circumstances murder by lying in wait, aggravated assault and sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon and causing great bodily injury.
"The Rainwater family and our neighbors are hurting because of the action you chose that morning," states a victim impact statement read in court today on behalf of the family of the late Bobby Ray Rainwater Jr. "We are getting better as time goes by, but we will not forget Bob. We will always have loving thoughts of Bob and the fun time we shared with him.
"I will never understand how so much evil can cause the loss of two men. One murdered, and one person in prison for the rest of his life."
Rainwater, 54, was a registered sex offender but the crime that earned him that tag did not involve children. He was known for helping out neighbors at the San Juan Capistrano mobile home park where he lived so he could care for his elderly parents.
But he was apparently known by Vasquez's mother to have been someone convicted of preying on children. After Rainwater said something to Vasquez's girlfriend that she could not make out but told her boyfriend left her feeling uncomfortable, the knifeman hatched a deadly plan.
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He hid in the bushes outside Rainwater's home the morning of Dec. 1, 2011, and when the target stepped outside to take a smoke, Vasquez lunged at him, hit him in the back of the head, punched him several times and plunged his knife into the helpless victim several times. By the time sheriff's deputies arrived, Vasquez was gone and the deceased Rainwater's head was only barely attached to the rest of his body.
Vasquez hid from the law at an unknowing friend's home, where he became the creeper. The grandmother of friend Lance Lyons told him on Dec. 3, 2011, that she felt uncomfortable when Vasquez came into her room uninvited and while she had been alone. After Lyon told Vasquez not to go into grandma's room again, the guest used a metal object to hit the 44-year-old in the face as he was lying down. Vasquez was stopped by Lyon's brother before connecting with the second swing. Lyon suffered major injuries to his nose and mouth but survived.
Vasquez was originally arrested for the attack on Lyon, but further investigation fingered him as Rainwater's murderer. The defense never denied Vasquez killed Rainwater but tried to argue he deserved lesser charges because he was only trying to defend his family. Jurors obviously didn't buy it.