ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:46 PM: Just ordered by King County Superior Court Judge Kristin Richardson: 25 years in prison each for Anna Kasparova and Abel Linares-Montejo in the murder of 25-year-old Edixon Velasquez outside his Westwood home in 2017, “a completely senseless act,” as prosecutor Wyman Yip described the deadly shooting. A full courtroom was there for the hour-and-a-half-long hearing, two months after the verdict that both were guilty of first-degree murder (WSB coverage here). In the emotional hearing, the judge heard from people including the victim’s longtime foster mother as well as the mothers and pastors of both defendants, who also spoke for themselves.
Defense lawyers had requested 15-year sentences, a little more than half what prosecutors asked for; neither defendant had a record. Judge Richardson noted neither expressed remorse, and while both had “terrible upbringings,” she noted, so did the victim, “and he managed to overcome that.” Still, what she ordered was at the low end of the Legislature-defined “standard range” – 20 years, plus 5 more that are required because the crime involved a gun. Kasparova is 23; Linares-Montejo is 21. Details after we get back to HQ.
ADDED 6:55 PM: Our video of the entire hearing:
Ahead, the rest of our report on how it unfolded:
First – a brief recap: Testimony indicated that Kasparova, a former girlfriend of the victim, lured him out of his house, saying she needed help parking her car, at which time Linares-Montejo was supposed to rob him, but shot him instead.
Prosecutor Yip acknowledged that “nothing the court can impose will make anyone truly happy,” but requested a 28-year, 3-month sentence, declaring, “We’re not talking about an impulsive act, we’re talking about something preplanned … a completely senseless act … Mr. Velasquez is gone forever and this hole will remain forever.”
That “hole” was spoken to by the woman who described herself as Mr. Velasquez’s “American mom,” having fostered him for 8 years after he came to the U.S. to escape violence-wracked Honduras.
Mollie Hughes said he was her “last foster kid … a true son to me.” She spoke of his potential, his “sense of joyfulness.” As a adult, he “worked long hours” – at CalPortland – and had time to dance and play.” He was a good friend to co-workers, and he became her friend too. He was also a father. It is “totally unbelievable to me that anyone could hurt him,” she said. She had harsh words for Kasparova’s lack of remorse, considering “his last act on this planet was doing a kindness for her.”
Kasparova’s mother spoke of raising her as a single mother, and of Kasparova’s own two young sons. Her pastor said he believes “God has transformed Anna’s heart” in the two-plus years she has spent in jail. Her lawyer implored the judge to recognize the trauma in Kasparova’s earlier years, saying it left her “emotionally stunted” and saying she was mentally a juvenile.
Then Kasparova spoke for herself, reading a letter aloud, saying she’s not the “evil” person she feels she’s been portrayed as, yet insisting that “making me pay the price for the death of Eddie is wrong.” She vowed to appeal her conviction.
For Linares-Montejo, his mother, stepfather, brother, pastor, and a friend all spoke. Through an interpreter, his mother Delmin Montejo Linares said he was the “best-behaved” of her three grown children.
His lawyer again pleaded for a low sentence – suggesting 15 years – and then Linares-Montejo spoke on his own behalf, mostly speaking of his faith, and saying that he even feels “thankful for these tribulations.”
He said he prays that God will remove everyone’s pain.
Finally, it was Judge Richardson’s turn.
“In the split second it takes to fire a gun,” lives were destroyed. Mr. Velasquez was “killed for no reason whatsoever except he thought he was doing a friend a favor by helping her park her car.” While she acknowledged the mitigating circumstances pointed out by both defendants’ lawyers – their young ages, their “terrible upbringings” – she said she did not have cause to impose an exceptionally low sentence, as the defense lawyers requested. So she ordered 20 years for each, plus the five-year added sentence for gun involvement.
With that, and ensuing paperwork, the hearing ended with the two defendants led out to be returned to jail, and the 40-some people in the gallery – some crying – filing out of the courtroom.