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Saturday, June 15, 2013 - Page updated at 09:30 p.m.
Renton teen gets almost 70 years for fatal shooting
By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter
Say Keodara wasn’t about to stand still for the 69-year sentence he was given Friday for killing a homeless man and wounding three other people at a Seattle bus shelter nearly two years ago.
“You keep telling me I did this. I didn’t do it,” Keodara, 19, told King County Superior Court Judge Laura Middaugh. The Renton man then stood up and began walking out of the courtroom before he was wrangled by four guards and returned to face the judge.
Keodara said he didn’t care how many years Middaugh gave him, he still would be serving a sentence for a crime he swore he didn’t commit. He vowed to appeal.
Keodara was convicted by a King County jury last month of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree assault with a deadly-weapon enhancement on each count. He also was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.
He faced a standard sentence range of 78 to 98 years in prison, but the prosecutor asked for the minimum sentence of just more than 69 years because of his youth.
According to King County prosecutors, Keodara shot three homeless men and a woman at a bus shelter near Rainier Avenue South and South McClellan Street Sept. 12, 2011.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carla Carlstrom said during the trial that the shooting was motivated by anger. She said Keodara tried to get the victims to buy drugs from him and then tried to rob them.
He flew into a rage, the prosecutor claimed, because they had so little to steal.
Keodara’s defense attorney, Ramona Brandes, argued there was no physical evidence against her client. She described the case as a “good old-fashioned whodunit.”
According to prosecutors, the victims were at the bus stop when a car with three Asian males pulled up and one of the occupants asked if anybody wanted to buy crack.
The three males in the car, one of whom carried a gun, then returned on foot a few minutes later and ordered the victims to hand over their valuables.
When one of the men tried to run, Keodara opened fire, court documents say.
Prosecutors say Keodara then stood over Victor Parker, 54, who had collapsed on the sidewalk after the first shot was fired, and killed him with a direct shot to the forehead.
The three other victims survived.
The case against Keodara was built primarily on the testimony of a friend who had served time with him in a juvenile facility, according to court documents.
The friend told Wenatchee police he’d gotten a frantic call from Keodara on the night of the shooting, saying he’d shot a man over a drug deal and needed to get out of town, prosecutors say.
In addition, video surveillance from a nearby gas station and drugstore show a car similar to the one described by witnesses stopping at the shelter around 2:31 a.m., prosecutors say.
Keodara’s ex-girlfriend identified him from surveillance footage, and cellphone records placed him in the area at the time of the shootings, according to Carlstrom.
But Brandes said during the trial that the two cellphones taken into evidence by police weren’t registered to Keodara and that the surveillance footage wasn’t clear enough to identify Keodara.
The gun used in the shootings was never found, and the two other Asian males who were at the scene were never identified, she said.
After Friday’s sentencing hearing, Brandes questioned the equity of the charges filed against her client.
She said that while judges have little sentencing discretion because of state sentencing standards, prosecutors wield great and unchecked power.
Brandes said Keodara originally was charged with first-degree murder and one count of assault, but prosecutors added two additional assault and four weapon-enhancement charges against him when he turned down a plea deal.
The weapon-enhancement charges alone added 20 years to his sentence.
“It’s vindictive,” she said.
But Ian Goodhew, the prosecuting attorney’s deputy chief of staff, disagreed.
He said King County prosecutors file conservatively at the outset of a case to give a benefit to defendants willing to “step forward and take responsibility.”
“We filed all the charges that were supported by evidence, and the jury agreed,” Goodhew said.
“I’ll tell you what was vindictive,” he added. “The decision to shoot four people, killing one, because they didn’t have enough for him to rob from them.”
Christine Clarridge can be reached at 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
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