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Victor Vargas gets 20-40 years for "08 crime wave

Victor Vargas began breaking the law as a kid, racking up eight juvenile arrests and an additional 23 as an adult.

Victor Vargas began breaking the law as a kid, racking up eight juvenile arrests and an additional 23 as an adult.

Yesterday, Vargas, 27, stood in a Philadelphia courtroom to apologize for his last rampage in 2008, during which he robbed two people at knifepoint and burglarized three homes, including that of an Elizabeth Morini, 82, who died six weeks after he brutally beat her.

Vargas, a thin man with a tattoo-covered neck, read from a prepared statement that he accepted his punishment, had disappointed his parents and wanted treatment for drug use.

Common Pleas Judge Roger F. Gordon sentenced him to 20 to 40 years in prison for those crimes committed in his Kensington neighborhood between March 6 and April 8.

"Mr. Vargas, I hope you can use this to your advantage to do what you need to do," said Gordon, "because the person you have been we cannot have here, and that's the God's honest truth."

Assistant District Attorney Peter Erdely, who asked that Vargas be kept behind bars for 36 to 73 years, expressed disappointment after the hearing, as did the Morini family.

"Given his prior history . . . I think he should have been put away for a lot longer," said Tom Morini, 51, the victim's son.

Morini said that before Vargas attacked his mother, she was healthy and still drove herself around to shop, visit friends and attend church.

About 4:40 a.m. April 2, Vargas broke into Morini's home looking for money and drugs. Her house on Boudinot Street near Somerset was across the street from Vargas'.

For 90 minutes, Erdely said, Vargas ransacked the tidy rowhouse where Morini had lived for 60 years and raised two children with her recently deceased husband.

During the home invasion, Vargas beat Morini with a flashlight but she managed to hit him in the head with a board, drawing blood that police would use to identify him.

Vargas fled the house with $80 and some of Morini's prescription drugs.

She had bruises and trauma over much of her body and died six weeks later, following a stroke and an accidental fall.

Though the official cause of death was congestive heart failure, Tom Morini and his wife Bernadette Gredyk believe the attack directly contributed to his mother's death.

Morini said he left off the date of his mother's death on her gravestone but now that Vargas has been sentenced, he'll call the cemetery to have May 21, 2008 affixed.

"It's over now," he said. "I think I can put some closure to it."