West Jordann, Utah — In an emotional hearing Friday, a transient man pleaded guilty to and was sentenced for a pair of grotesque rapes at different Salt Lake City parks last December, including one that left a woman dead, her body disemboweled and mutilated on a cold bathroom floor.
Paul David Vara, 31, will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole for the slaying of Kristine Marie Gabel.
"I don't think there's a way to measure the grief and destruction this monster posing as a person caused," Mike Allred, Gabel's brother said in court. "I ask you to recant your plea and plead for the death sentence. Or do the world a big favor and kill yourself."
Vara pleaded guilty to the Dec. 18 slaying and to a Dec. 14 rape in Pioneer Park that left a woman with serious, long-term injuries.
"I see his face and I just shiver and shake and cry," that woman said Friday in 3rd District Court. The Tribune does not identify victims of sexual assault.
Vara's plea deal removed the possibility of a death sentence for Gabel's murder. The woman's family told reporters they agreed to the deal to avoid leaving a "legacy" of parole hearings behind for Gabel's daughters.
"We offer Paul Vara mercy, which is so much more than he offered Kristine," Gabel's partner, Christian Schutz, said.
Gabel's family recalled the woman's sense of humor and generosity, her "radiant, adorable smile" and the excellent blueberry pancakes she used to make.
"When Paul Vara took her life, he knew none of these things," Schutz's daughter, Chloe, said.
Gabel, 45, struggled with alcohol abuse and her addiction had led her to a life on the streets, her family said. Some family members believe Vara may have exploited her addiction to lure her into Fairmont Park's bathroom.
But while they did not hesitate to call Vara a "heartless, savage monster," they seemed to pin some of the blame for Gabel's death on themselves.
As he fought back tears, Gabel's younger brother recalled how she had been at a movie theater less than a mile from Fairmont Park on the day his sister was murdered. He hadn't spoken to her in more than two years, he said.
Chloe Schutz, who called Gabel a "mother, friend and sister," said she was asleep in bed as Gable lay dead in a "small, filthy" bathroom.
"I always told her I'd be there for her," Chloe Schutz said. "The guilt is sometimes overwhelming."
As Vara began to offer an apology before Judge Mark Kouris, the judge made Vara turn to his victims' families.
"If God could grant wishes, I would go back in time and undo everything," he said with tears in his eyes.
"F--- you!" a woman in the crowd responded.
As he delivered a sentence that will keep Vara behind bars for the rest of his life, Kouris said it was "still not enough punishment."
"I don't know how a human being could do what you did," Kouris said. "I don't think animals do that to each other. ... The community is going to be better off after putting you in a cage."