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A 31-year-old Virginia man accused of killing a man he often rock climbed with at a national park in Potomac was formally indicted in federal court Wednesday.

David DiPaolo of Bristow, Va., faces charges of voluntary manslaughter for allegedly using a climbing hammer to kill 69-year-old Geoffrey Farrar, another climber, in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park in December, according to officials from the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.

DiPaolo has an initial appearance Thursday in federal court in Greenbelt.

He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted of voluntary manslaughter, according to Department of Justice officials.

A lawyer for DiPaolo was not listed in online federal court records.

Online court records show that DiPaolo had an argument with Farrar.

“After the argument, DiPaolo walked to the bottom of the rockface and turned the corner. DiPaolo stated that the next thing he remembers is being choked by the victim,” investigators wrote in his charging documents.

DiPaolo told police he hit Farrar in the head with the hammer because he was afraid he would lose consciousness, according to the criminal complaint.

New York police arrested DiPaolo in New York on Dec. 29.

“I’m sorry this happened. I didn’t want it to happen. I didn’t know it was going to happen,” DiPaolo told detectives after his arrest, according to his charging documents.