A Port Jefferson, New York man, on Monday, pleaded guilty to murdering a 27-year-old father of three in 2018 after an argument at a pool hall became physical.
Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney said in a press release that Alejandro Vargas-Diaz, 41, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2018 fatal shooting of Albert Luis Rodriguez-Lopez of Selden, New York.
Based on court documents and statements made during the guilty plea, Vargas-Diaz and Rodriguez-Lopez got into an argument at a Port Jefferson pool hall on July 22, 2018.
As the two argued, Rodriguez-Lopez punched Vargas-Diaz in the face, the DA’s office said, knocking him down to the ground.
After a short time, Vargas-Diaz retaliated by ambushing the victim inside the pool hall and shooting him in the back, neck and shoulder.
Rodriguez-Lopez died at the scene, and Vargas-Diaz fled the state.
Suffolk County Police Department investigators located the murder weapon nearly a month after the murder. The 9mm pistol was found in a tree on the Setauket Port Jefferson Greenway Trail, the DA’s office said.
A Crime Stoppers tip helped lead investigators to Vargas-Diaz, who was ultimately arrested on June 18, 2021, with the help of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.
The suspect was extradited to Suffolk County, New York on Nov. 11, 2021 to be arraigned on murder charges.
On Monday, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, before Acting Supreme Court Justice Steven A. Pilewski.
Vargas-Diaz is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 13, 2023, and could face 23 years to life in prison.
“For five years, the relatives and loved ones of Mr. Rodriguez-Lopez have waited for justice for this senseless murder. Today, with his admission of guilt, justice has been served,” Tierney said. “While the defendant may have prolonged his freedom by hiding out in another state, it was only a matter of time before the law caught up with him and now, he is being held to account for his actions.”