Darlene Rachelle Ybarra


A Santa Maria judge on Wednesday sentenced a Lompoc woman to seven years in state prison for her role in the emotionally-driven stabbing death of a 55-year-old man inside a residence in March 2019. 

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge John McGregor handed down the sentence to Darlene Ybarra, 36, who pleaded guilty last month to voluntary manslaughter of Eric Larsson and admitted an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon, a knife, according to Dillon Forsyth, Ybarra's attorney. 

Ybarra appeared in person inside the courtroom, while Forsyth and Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Schoenburg appeared by video conference. 

Ybarra received a midterm sentence of six years for the charge, plus an additional year for the enhancement. She previously pleaded not guilty to a first-degree premeditated murder charge, which carries a 25-year-to-life prison sentence, although it was reduced as part of a plea deal she struck with prosecutors in June. 

The deal was based, in part, on a potential jury verdict of less than murder had the case gone to trial. Forsyth intended to use a justifiable homicide defense for Ybarra, who stabbed Larsson to death with a sharpened kitchen knife believing he molested a 3-year-old girl days earlier. 

Schoenburg read an impact statement from Barbara Root, Larsson's sister who lives in Pennsylvania and who disputed the accusations against her brother. 

"Eric was a kind soul and found the most joy in his life through helping others," Root said. "[Ybarra] plotted, ambushed and carried out his execution, after her mind was fed false accusations against him, and believing she would be some sort of hero." 

Lompoc Police officers responded to a report of a stabbing shortly before 9 p.m. on March 23, 2019, in the 400 block of North J Street, where they found Larsson suffering from a stab wound to the chest. He later died at a local hospital. 

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Ybarra was arrested days later after allegedly making incriminating statements to police during questioning, according to court documents. 

During an October 2019 discovery hearing, evidence surfaced that Ybarra was motivated to stab Larsson to death with a sharpened kitchen knife following the molestation accusation from the girl's mother. 

At her sentencing, McGregor said Ybarra acted as "judge, jury and executioner," according to Forsyth, although the allegation was never proven in court. 

Larsson did not have history of sex crimes, according to Howard T. Root, Barbara's husband, although Root added that his brother-in-law struggled with homelessness and drug addiction for years following two separate head injuries. 

Larsson, a carpenter by trade and Lompoc native, suffered a work-related head injury in the 1980s that left him unconscious for days and experienced a separate, unspecified head injury in 2012. 

He lived in Carpinteria for years before before becoming uprooted and lived at the J Street residence for two months in an attempt to get back on his feet before he died, Root said, adding that Larsson and Ybarra did not know each other. 

"He didn’t deserve to die in a manner that he died, for a killer to get away with such a light sentence is incredible," Root said. "This truly devastated both of us, particularly my wife."