Man acquitted of murder in 12-year-old Rhode Islander's killing; convicted on lesser charges

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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — A Providence man was acquitted Tuesday of murder and conspiracy charges in the shooting death of a 12-year-old girl, but convicted of lesser charges that could keep him in prison for years.

Luis Gonzalez, known as "Fat Boy," was found not guilty of the most serious charges in the killing of Aynis Vargas, who was attending a graduation party in Providence when she and three women were shot. The three women survived.

Gonzalez was found guilty of eight lesser charges, including felony assault and weapons charges. One weapons charge, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death, carries a mandatory term of life in prison. The other charges carry prison terms of up to 130 years. A sentencing date has not been set.

Prosecutors say Gonzalez and four other gang members targeted the graduation party because it was in the neighborhood of a rival gang, and they were seeking revenge for a friend's killing.

Gonzalez acknowledged he was there, but testified he didn't realize the shooter, 22-year-old Branden Castro, had a gun, and once he did, he said he couldn't move fast enough to prevent from firing into the crowd because he was so overweight.

Castro and the other three people charged in the killing all pleaded guilty.

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