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Verdict in for man accused of murdering his girlfriend at Gainesville apartment
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Christopher Vargas-Zayas looks back into the courtroom gallery Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Hall County Superior Court during his murder trial for the 2018 fatal shooting of Carly Andrews. - photo by Scott Rogers

A Gainesville man was found guilty Thursday, Nov. 18, on all counts, including malice murder, in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend more than three years ago.

Christopher Vargas-Zayas was convicted of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault under the Family Violence Act and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in the death of Carly Andrews, 26.

Vargas-Zayas was accused of shooting Andrews Sept. 6, 2018, at the Glenn Cove Apartments in Gainesville.

Sentencing is set for mid-December.

Prosecutor Anna Fowler and defense attorney David West made their final arguments to the jury Thursday morning, boiling down to two theories of the man either intentionally shooting Andrews after an argument or accidentally firing while cleaning his 9 mm handgun.

Superior Court Judge Clint Bearden gave his final instructions to the jury after 1 p.m. Thursday.

Having heard three days of evidence, the jury entered deliberations after 1:40 p.m. Thursday and returned the verdict roughly two hours later.

The jury was allowed to consider a lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter.

Both Andrews and Vargas-Zayas have had handfuls of supporters in the courtroom through the trial.

Fowler told the jury that as Andrews laid dying, Vargas-Zayas was “hatching a plan to get away with murder.” She asked the jury to not be “distracted by ludicrous theories” about what may have happened at the Glenn Cove Apartments that afternoon.

“To believe that he didn’t do this, you have to believe that he is the unluckiest man in the world,” Fowler said.

Vargas-Zayas’ attorney said the prosecution had to prove there are no other viable theories that fit the evidence.

West claimed the science was inconvenient for the state’s case and essential to understanding what happened.

In a crisis, people don’t have time to “think through coming up with all kinds of additional details,” West said.

“In that moment, people tend to say exactly what they’re hearing and sensing,” West said. “They stick to the details because they just happened.”

West reminded the jury about his expert witness, Chris Robinson, who opined that the handgun was unsafe.

Following West’s closing argument, Fowler offered her rebuttal to the points made during the defense’s address to the jury. 

“He snapped. He’d had enough. He wanted to shut her up,” Fowler said of Vargas-Zayas.

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