In December 2013, Geoff Farrar, a well-known character in the Carderock climbing area, was beaten to death with a hammer while out bouldering.
Last week, after a lengthy legal procedure, “Carderock Geoff’s” killer, Dave Di Paolo, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“The hearing was awful in so many ways, but it’s over,” John Gregory, another experienced local climber, wrote in a Facebook post following the sentencing.
He also wrote, “Hitting someone 15 times in the head with [a] hammer is more than ‘Voluntary Manslaughter.’”
Mike Precure, formerly from the area, commented on the post, “So, one can commit a murder and be out in five years?” Other climbers also expressed dissatisfaction,
and relief, with the conclusion.
Di Paolo was also well known around Carderock, and his troubled past, including a history of drug abuse was no secret. At the time of the incident, Hunt
Prothro, a longtime local at the Carderock, Maryland area, reported for Rock and Ice that Farrar and Di Paolo had argued in the parking lot above the cliffs along the Potomac River. He also described their long and complicated friendship:
“Di Paolo had been climbing for two decades and for many of those years was the protégé, perhaps even a surrogate son, of Farrar, who came to the climbing
scene in the Washington, D.C., area in the early 1970s.” Farrar was 69 at the time of his death.
In a Rock and Ice TNB column shortly after the
tragic event, Alison Osius described Farrar as, “a particularly good climber who made hard, thoughtful problems using new moves and eliminates, and
he was a mentor to other young climbers as well as Di Paolo.”
Di Paolo never believed himself to be mentally ill. In court, his attorneys used this attitide to argue that because he couldn’t adequately assist in his
own defense, he wasn’t competent to stand trial. “It can seem slightly illogical, the need to be mentally competent to help craft an insanity defense,”
the Washington Post wrote. “But [the concept] represent[s] two states of mind at two points in time. The insanity must be at the time of the
alleged crime, while competency is for purposes of assisting in one’s defense.”Di Paolo, 34, whom other climbers had seen running from the scene, was
originally arrested the second week of January in 2014. Because the killing was committed in a national park, he was charged with a federal crime.
The federal public defenders representing him tried to mount an insanity defense that DiPaolo disagreed with, stalling the justice procedure. Throughout
most of 2014 and 2015, DiPaolo shuttled between jails and federal detention centers, according to the Washington Post, with continued observation by mental-health professionals.” After the case finally came to court, sentencing
took place July 18th.
In February, after repeatedly disagreeing with his attorneys and arguing with the judge, Di Paolo decided to enter a plea deal for fear that his charge
would be increased to a longer sentence. He was ultimately charged with voluntary manslaughter and ordered to pay for Farrar’s funeral expenses and
medical bills in addition to 10 years in prison, with possible time off for good behavior.