Virginia Man Sentenced to 100 Years for Murder Over Stolen Lunch

Virginia Man Sentenced to 100 Years for Murder Over Stolen Lunch
Virginia Man Sentenced to 100 Years for Murder Over Stolen Lunch

A Virginia man, Bazn Berhe, has been sentenced to 100 years in prison for the murder of his co-worker, Hernan Leiva, over a stolen lunch. This harsh sentence, which effectively means Berhe will serve 70 years, was handed down by the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The Motive: A Missing Meal

The attack stemmed from an incident that occurred just days before, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. According to prosecutors, Berhe was angry that Leiva, who was a janitor at the Target, had taken his lunch from the office fridge that day. Berhe said after this incident, he began plotting the murder.

The Murder: A Brutal Ambush

The very next day, Berhe purchased a hammer and two knives while leaving his shift at Target and he told detectives that he spent the following day, Friday, April 16, “training for the murder.” Then, he put his plan into action Saturday morning.

On April 17, Berhe arrived at the employee parking lot early and sat waiting for Leiva to arrive. When Leiva got there, Berhe attacked him, stabbing and bludgeoning him to death before fleeing. Berhe confessed to the crime immediately and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in October 2023.

The Sentence: A Century Behind Bars

At his sentencing hearing, prosecutors say Berhe threatened to kill or hurt other people if he was not given the harshest possible sentence. “Mr. Leiva’s unnecessary and tragic death leaves behind a grieving family and community, one that will never be the same after such a senseless act of violence,” Commonweath’s Attorney Steve Descano said. “In this case, because of the unique and self-proclaimed danger the defendant continues to pose to the community, today’s sentence was a necessary outcome for maintaining public safety.”

Berhe received the 100-year sentence with 30 years suspended, so he will serve 70 years of active incarceration. He will also be on supervised probation for 10 years after his release.

The Reaction: A Shocking Case

The murder of Leiva shocked and saddened many people, especially his family and friends. Leiva was a native of El Salvador who lived Falls Church, Virginia, with his partner, Esperanza, and his two sons, according to his online obituary, which praised him as an “extraordinarily hard worker and prominent figure to his family” who beloved for his sense of humor.

The case also sparked a debate about the severity of the sentence and the role of mental health in criminal justice. Some people argued that Berhe deserved the maximum punishment for his heinous crime, while others suggested that he might have been suffering from a mental illness that impaired his judgment and impulse control.

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