Va. Man Sentenced for Murdering Target Co-Worker He Claimed Stole His Lunch from Workplace Fridge

Prosecutors said Bazn Berhe plotted the 2021 murder of Hernan Leiva before attacking him in the parking lot of the Target store where they both worked

<p>GoFundMe; Fairfax County Police Department</p> Hernan Leiva; Bazn Berhe

GoFundMe; Fairfax County Police Department

Hernan Leiva; Bazn Berhe

A Virginia man was sentenced to 100 years in prison this week for stabbing and beating his co-worker to death after accusing him of stealing his lunch, authorities said.

Bazn Berhe, 25, of Alexandria, was handed down the 100 year sentence with 30 years suspended in the 2021 death of 58-year-old Hernan Leiva, the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney announced Tuesday. In total, Berhe will spend 70 years behind bars.

He reportedly confessed to the crime and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in October 2023. Prosecutors said Berhe killed Leiva on April 17, 2021, in the parking lot of the Target in Baileys Crossroads where they both worked. Berhe claimed he became upset with Leiva, who was a janitor at the store, after believing he stole his lunch from the work fridge on April 14, 2021.

Over the course of the next three days, prosecutors said Berhe plotted the killing of Leiva before attacking him in the parking lot. It began with Berhe buying a hammer and two knives while leaving his shift at Target the day after he accused Leiva of stealing and spent the following day “training for the murder.”

On the day of the murder, Berhe reportedly waited for Leiva in the parking lot. Once Leiva arrived for his shift, prosecutors said Berhe fatally stabbed and bludgeoned Leiva before fleeing the scene.

At his sentencing hearing, Berhe reportedly threatened to "kill or hurt other people if he was not given the harshest sentence possible," Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a statement.

In a GoFundMe campaign launched following his death, Leiva, a father, was remembered by loved ones as someone who had a “joyous spirit and lively sense of humor.”

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“He was an exemplary figure and beacon of light in your moment of darkness,” the fundraiser’s description reads.

In the statement, Descano said, “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.”

“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.”

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