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January 09, 2013 05:57 PM

Man Suspected Of Killing 50-Year-Old With Bat

Sioux Falls, SD

A Sioux Falls man could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted for allegedly beating a man to death with a bat. 

Twenty-two-year-old Robert C. Bass III faces murder charges after police believe he killed 50-year-old Crescencio "Chris" Conde-Vargas early Saturday morning.

Police arrested Bass Tuesday. Conde-Vargas was found dead in his duplex after concerned co-workers reported he did not show up for work on Monday. Police say Bass and Conde-Vargas may have met before through a mutual acquaintance.

Police said Bass and Conde-Vargas had been drinking on Friday night before they got into a fight that turned deadly.

"Obviously we are only able to hear one side of the story, so it's hard to say what the victim, what his role was in that," Sioux Falls Police Chief Doug Barthel said.

According to court paperwork, Bass told police that he hit Conde-Vargas twice on the head with "a stick with tape on it," which he later described as a wooden bat. 

Investigators found Conde-Vargas with a "severely bloodied face and head," as well as a significant amount of blood in the living room, bedroom and bathroom. 

Autopsy reports show Conde-Vargas had numerous injuries including a broken skull, broken jaw and broken ribs.  Police say Bass left the home after the fight and went to a nearby gas station.

"I don't believe the victim was deceased at the time the suspect left the house. It's very possible he didn't know until he saw it on the news that Conde-Vargas died of his injuries," Barthel said.

This all started on Friday, after a co-worker had taken Conde-Vargas to run errands. In a police interview, the co-worker said he went back to the home at about 12:20 a.m. on Saturday and brought Bass with him. The co-worker and Bass left about two hours later, but Bass came back.  Bass had asked if his girlfriend could spend the night at Conde-Vargas' home. 

Officials believe the fight happened at about 4 a.m. on Saturday. An affidavit shows that Bass sent a series of texts to his 17-year-old girlfriend several times between about 4 a.m. and 5:10 a.m.  At 4:52 a.m., he sent a message that said, "omg."  Two minutes later he sent one that said he had done something "terrible." Another message at 4:58 a.m. asked the girlfriend to pick him up at the gas station before the police came.

Bass faces a second degree murder charge and two charges for manslaughter.

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