Scott W. Kinkele
Lieutenant (jg), United States Navy
Sunday, July 30,
Scott Kinkele - a young Naval officer who had just earned his gold navigator's wings - was killed last week by a bullet shot through his car window by someone authorities said he probably didn't know.
Kinkele, a lieutenant junior grade, was driving back Thursday (July 27) night to the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island, where he was assigned temporarily, after a day of hiking at Mount Rainier with a family friend.
He stopped for gas at a service station on Highway 20 near LaConner, Skagit County, around midnight and continued west toward the island.
Just a few minutes later, police were called to investigate an apparent accident a mile down the road. Instead, they found Kinkele dead.
He had been shot in the back of the head, through the rear window, and had died immediately, crossing the median and swerving across the nearly empty oncoming lanes.
No arrests have been made, but detectives with the Skagit County Sheriff's Department said they are searching for two dark-colored vehicles - a late '70's 4x4 Ford pickup and a late-model Pontiac Trans Am - that were reported to be in the westbound lanes when the shooting occurred.
Kinkele, who was bound for Spain after he finished a six-month training course in electronics at the Naval Air Station, was the youngest graduate in his 1998 class at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
"Whatever he wanted to do, he would set his jaw and do it," said his father, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel John Kinkele (pronounced Kinkle) Jr., from his parents' home in Las Vegas.
"He rode his bicycle across Death Valley and up a mountain. He climbed Mount Rainier and Mount McKinley . . . He was the strongest, fittest and healthiest of us all."
Kinkele, who was described by family members as a Tom Cruise look-alike, set his sights on Annapolis early and began studying at the academy just weeks after his 17th birthday. He graduated near the top of his class, and celebrated by climbing Mount Denali (also known as McKinley) in 21 days.
He then began a series of short, intensive training programs with the Navy, first in Pensacola, Florida, then in Universal City, Texas, where he got his navigator's wings in March, and finally in Whidbey Island, where he was training to be an electronics officer aboard a patrol plane.
Kinkele was bound for his first permanent assignment in Spain October 1, his father said.
"He was really looking forward to it," he said.
"This is so hard to believe, hard to imagine,
and hard to understand."
Three Anacortes men were arrested over the weekend as suspects in the shooting death of a young Navy officer in his car last week near La Conner, Skagit County.
Skagit County authorities arrested a 25-year-old man at his home Saturday night and a 23-year-old and a 36-year-old at their home early yesterday morning, said Harry Hemphill, chief criminal deputy for the Skagit County Sheriff's Office.
All three are being held in Skagit County Jail on investigation of first-degree murder. Charges should be filed by tomorrow, Hemphill said.
Scott Kinkele, 23, a lieutenant junior grade who had just earned his gold navigator's wings, was found shot through the rear window of his car early Friday morning. He was driving back to the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island.
Tips from people throughout the county who had reported disturbances, including sounds of gunfire, led authorities to the three men, Hemphill said. He said the shooting was random and there was no connection between Kinkele and the suspects.
"It would appear, from what we know, that they just wanted to shoot a car," Hemphill said.
The 36-year-old man, who has convictions for robbery and manslaughter in Chelan County, is believed to be the shooter, Hemphill said. Police found a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber rifle at his home where he lives with the 23-year-old, Hemphill said. The men were arrested without incident.
Around midnight Thursday, Kinkele had stopped for gas at a service station on Highway 20 between Mount Vernon and Anacortes, Skagit County, before continuing west. A few minutes later, police responded to a car accident a mile down the road. Kinkele was found shot in his car, which had crossed the median and swerved across the eastbound lanes.
Kinkele was to go to Spain in October for his
first permanent assignment after finishing a six-month electronics-training
course at the Naval Air Station. He was the youngest graduate in his 1998
class at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
A 33-year-old Sedro-Woolley woman appears to have narrowly escaped the fate of a young Navy officer who was shot to death in his car last week.
Skagit County authorities think the three Anacortes men arrested last weekend in connection with the apparent random slaying of Scott Kinkele are responsible for shooting at the woman's car less than an hour earlier.
"She thought they were throwing rocks at her car," said Skagit County Undersheriff Dave Stafford.
The woman, thinking her car had been struck, pulled over and saw an older blue Camaro-type car pass her with three men inside. "She contemplated chasing them down but thought better of it," Stafford said.
It wasn't until after the woman got home and inspected her car that she found two bullet holes in the back of the vehicle, Stafford said. She reported the incident yesterday to sheriff's officials, who are holding her car as evidence. Authorities recovered one .22-caliber slug from the car and will compare it to a rifle seized from the suspects, Stafford said. "That woman was very lucky," he said. "She's still very, very emotionally upset."
Kinkele, 23, a lieutenant junior grade, was found shot in the head through the rear window of his car early Friday morning. He had been driving back to the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island, heading west on Highway 20. The shooting occurred shortly after midnight about six miles west of Burlington, Skagit County.
Sheriff's officials arrested the suspects - ages 23, 25 and 36 - over the weekend. All three were being held on investigation of first-degree murder, each in lieu of $1 million bail. Charges are expected by tomorrow.
The 36-year-old man, who has convictions for robbery and manslaughter in Chelan County, is believed to be the shooter. Police found a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber rifle at his home where he lives with the 23-year-old suspect, his half-brother.
Sheriff's officials believe the shooting was random and that the suspects didn't know Kinkele.
Less than an hour before Kinkele was shot, the woman was driving west on Highway 20 near Sedro-Woolley, about five miles east of Burlington, when she realized something was hitting her car, Stafford said.
Between the time the woman's car was shot and Kinkele was killed, a sheriff's deputy stopped the suspects' car near Sedro-Woolley, Stafford said. The deputy gave the driver, the 23-year-old, a verbal warning for speeding.
Detectives think the suspects discarded the .22-caliber rifle in a field when they were stopped but returned to retrieve the rifle in a different car after shooting Kinkele, Stafford said.
Earlier, a woman reported seeing three men
in a blue car shooting at a sign near Sedro-Woolley about 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
She provided a partial description of the car's license plate.
WHIDBEY ISLAND NAVAL AIR STATION -- In their dress Navy whites, young junior officers sat 15 abreast in pews here yesterday, stock still, while the raucous chords of Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" rocked off the walls.
On a screen in the nave of the base chapel, scenes flashed, one by one, of a tightly chiseled young man -- a dead-ringer for Tom Cruise. Climbing an ice field. Riding a racing bike. Running a marathon.
Beaming at friends in his flight jacket.
More than 80 people
turned out for a memorial service to say goodbye to Lieutenant j.g.
Scott Kinkele, the 23-year-old officer who was killed in his car shortly
after midnight Friday in what Skagit County investigators say was nothing
more than a random
The case has drawn nervous attention from many in this area, partly because Kinkele was a bright, up-and-coming officer in a tightly knit Navy community, and partly because state Route 20 is the only land link between Whidbey and Fidalgo islands and the mainland.
It's a road that everyone who lives or works on the islands travels at least occasionally, and the randomness of Kinkele's slaying was chilling.
Three Anacortes men, Eben Berriault, 36, his half-brother Seth Anderson, 23, and a friend, Adam Moore, 25, remained in the Skagit County Jail yesterday, held on $1 million bail each, to await the filing of formal homicide charges, expected today.
Search warrant documents returned to Skagit County District Court yesterday say the three drank hard liquor and beer Thursday night as they drove from Anderson and Berriault's Anacortes home to Sedro-Woolley to poach deer. Moore later told investigators that the night turned ugly when Berriault pointed a .22-caliber rifle out the window and fired at another car.
Berriault and Anderson "thought that was very funny," Moore told investigators. Later, they temporarily ditched the rifle as a sheriff's deputy pulled them over to warn them for speeding. But Anderson pulled a 12-gauge shotgun out of the trunk and shot a sign after the deputy left, the papers say.
Later, back on state Route 20, Berriault aimed at the back window of a moving car and pulled the trigger, the papers say.
The target he allegedly hit was Kinkele, who was fatally shot in the back of the head.
Police seized a .22-caliber rifle and 12-gauge shotgun from Berriault's house. Investigators today are trying to match the weapons to a slug found in the trunk of a Sedro-Woolley woman's car and to the damage to Kinkele's head.
As the grim investigation ground on, though, yesterday was Kinkele's day.
Friends, teachers, classmates, Navy friends and mountain-climbing buddies came together in the chapel hall, some still stunned over the sudden loss of a man his longtime Navy buddy, Ensign Jason Pomponio, called "absolutely unbreakable."
Raised on San Francisco's Ashbury Street, the youngest son of a retired Air Force Colonel, Kinkele charged hard at everything he tried.
He climbed 20,320-foot Mount McKinley, North America's highest peak, to celebrate his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1998. He ran numerous marathons and ultra-marathons, finishing second and third in his age group in races in British Columbia and Oregon earlier this year, according to results posted on Internet sites.
Kinkele finished first in his class in flight navigator training at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas earlier this year, winning his wings easily, Pomponio said. But it was the casualness of his brilliance that seemed to stand out most.
Lieutnant Commander J.C. Eisenzimmer remembered the day a base police officer called to complain about having to write Kinkele a speeding ticket. "What?" Eisenzimmer responded. "Do you always call a commander when you give one of his people a speeding ticket?"
Kinkele was on a bicycle, the officer explained.
Kinkele was known for popping in on training tests fresh from a rigorous mountain climb, or for disappearing for hours on a run or a bicycle ride while his classmates studied in their tough, high-tech training program, said Torsten Garber, the officer who led Kinkele's training at Whidbey. Incredibly, though, Kinkele could pull it off -- he was the top student.
The loss is felt well beyond Kinkele's circle of family and friends, Garber said. In May, Kinkele started the rigorous training it takes to become an electronics warfare specialist aboard an EP-3E Aries, a high-tech surveillance plane. Specialists sift through inputs from up to 18 other crew members to determine whether fighters and bombers face a threat in the air -- a high-stress job that demands thorough academic skills, Garber said. Kinkele, he added, had all the right stuff.
"I cannot overestimate the impact that the loss of this young man has on the Navy," Garber said Monday. "I just hope there is not some young pilot out there who is going to pay the price and lose his life because someone who is not quite as good as Scott is in that position."
Dave Eubank, 40, first met Kinkele as they climbed Mount McKinley with different groups. It was a tough climbing year. Three climbers died while Eubank and Kinkele were on the mountain. Kinkele's partner was unable to make it to the top, so Kinkele soloed the final ascent, climbing the last 6,000 feet alone in one day at high altitudes -- an amazing feat, Eubank said.
Kinkele wrote about the experience later on a mountaineering Internet site.
"Mountaineering is a game where the ante is your life," he wrote. "No one raises or calls your bet, you play the hand you were dealt. Sometimes you win, others you walk away, head down. But unfortunately, there are those who never get to play again."
Kinkele was the youngest in his class to graduate from the Naval Academy. In the long tradition of the Annapolis, Md., school, his class ring will be enshrined there as the first in his class to die.
The 23-year-old Navy officer shot as he drove along a Skagit County highway was the victim of a "thrill kill" by three Anacortes men charged in his death yesterday, authorities said.
Seth Anderson, 23, and his half-brother, Eben Berriault, 36, were charged with first-degree murder. Adam Moore, 25, was charged with first-degree manslaughter in Friday's shooting death of Scott Kinkele.
Berriault also was charged with first-degree assault in an earlier shooting and unlawful possession of a gun, because he is a convicted felon.
On a night marked by heavy drinking, the three were riding in Anderson's 1980 blue Pontiac Firebird when they killed Kinkele, a lieutenant junior grade at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, according to documents filed in Skagit County Superior Court.
"This wasn't a case of road rage. This wasn't revenge," Tom Verge, Skagit County prosecutor, said yesterday. "To call this senseless doesn't even begin to describe this crime. I don't know how to describe this other than a thrill kill."
Prosecutors say the three suspects drank early in the afternoon at an Anacortes tavern before packing a .22-caliber bolt-action rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun into their car to poach deer, court papers said.
Several times, Anderson and Berriault told Moore he picked the wrong night to hang out with them "because we're going to prison," Moore later told investigators, according to a court affidavit.
Prosecutors say that as the trio set out on Highway 20, Berriault leaned out of the car window and shot at a road sign and later at a dog.
Later, he fired the rifle at another car, driven by a 33-year-old Sedro-Woolley woman who was not hurt.
When a police cruiser pulled over their car to warn them about speeding, Berriault threw the rifle out the window, according to the affidavit. After the officer left, Berriault pulled the shotgun out of the trunk and fired it at another road sign.
Kinkele had just left a service station after midnight when the three accelerated toward his car, Berriault leaning out the window with his shotgun, court papers said.
A second later, Kinkele was shot in the back of the head, through the rear window. He died immediately.
Moore said Berriault and Anderson seemed excited and proud of the shooting and laughed afterward, according to the affidavit. Prosecutors said the three picked up the discarded rifle before returning to Anacortes.
Skagit County sheriff's officers tracked them down after receiving a tip from a witness who had written down part of Anderson's license-plate number, Verge said.
A .22-caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun were seized from Berriault's home, according to a search warrant.
Berriault and Anderson are being held on $1 million bail each and Moore on $250,000 bail. They are to be arraigned Wednesday.
Verge said prosecutors may consider filing a charge of aggravated murder, which would carry the possibility of the death penalty.
If convicted, Berriault faces 46 to 58 years
in prison. Anderson, who prosecutors think was driving during both shootings,
faces between 38 and 48 years in prison, and Moore faces between six and
It was a newly paved road, so sheriff's Deputy Dan Luvera wasn't surprised when he spotted three Anacortes men speeding in a blue Pontiac Firebird that night. Luvera pulled the car over and let them off with a warning.
He didn't realize that half an hour later, early last Friday, a 23-year-old naval officer would be fatally shot as he drove along another highway nearby. And that the three men he had pulled over would be accused of the slaying.
Over the past week, the 41-year-old deputy has repeatedly second-guessed his actions but says there's nothing he could have done to prevent what Skagit County Prosecutor Tom Verge called the "thrill kill" of Navy Lieutenant j.g. Scott Kinkele along state Highway 20.
Seth Anderson, 23, and his half brother Eben Berriault, 36, have been charged with first-degree murder, and their friend, 25-year-old Adam Moore, with first-degree manslaughter in Kinkele's death.
"That just made me sick," Luvera said in an interview at his home here yesterday. "I started . . . wondering what I could have done differently."
Luvera was monitoring car speeds along Cook Road near Mount Vernon when Anderson sped by with Berriault and Moore, according to the sheriff's deputy. They were going 20 mph over the posted speed limit, Luvera said, though he doesn't recall what that limit was.
The three had been drinking heavily earlier that evening and had shot at a car driven by a 33-year-old Sedro-Woolley woman, prosecutors say. Authorities say the three, who had set out with a .22-caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun, had also fired shots at a road sign and a dog earlier.
The three seemed calm and collected, Luvera said, and didn't show any signs of being drunk when he pulled them over.
Police hadn't received any reports of the earlier shootings at the time Luvera pulled the car over, according to Harry Hemphill, chief criminal deputy sheriff for Skagit County.
"I didn't see any signs of intoxication," Luvera said. "Their speech wasn't slurred. They weren't swerving. (Anderson) didn't fumble when he reached for his wallet. They just seemed real calm and real apologetic."
Once they saw Luvera's flashing lights behind them, Berriault threw the rifle out the window, according to court papers.
Luvera said he didn't see anything fly out of the car or any evidence of guns in the car when he pulled them over.
"I shined my light in there," he said, "and there wasn't anything out of the ordinary in there."
Hemphill didn't question Luvera's actions that night, and said the deputy followed standard procedure.
Luvera said he let the trio off with a stern warning and told them to go back to Anderson's home.
Berriault and Anderson are being held on $1 million bail each and Moore on $250,000 bail. All three have been assigned attorneys and are to be arraigned Wednesday.
Berriault's attorney, public defender Gary Gaer, was not available for comment yesterday, and Roy Howson, Anderson's attorney in Mount Vernon, declined to comment.
Burlington lawyer Rob Jones, who represents Moore, said the Anacortes man had joined his friends Anderson and Berriault to poach deer.
"This was an evening that started with one thing in mind, and he didn't foresee what happened," Jones said. "(Moore's) a young man who got involved in something that got rapidly out of control and escalated to a dangerous situation before he could do anything about it.
"He's not a leader. He was just very frightened and didn't know what to do."
If convicted, Berriault faces up to 58 years in prison, Anderson up to 48 years and Moore up to nine years.
Within the next 30 days, prosecutors will decide
whether to file a charge of aggravated first-degree murder against Berriault
and Anderson. That charge would carry the possibility of the death penalty.
In a courtroom packed with naval officers in dress whites, three Anacortes men yesterday pleaded not guilty in the alleged "thrill kill" shooting of a Navy lieutenant July 28.
Seth Anderson, 23, and his half brother Eben Berriault, 36, entered not-guilty pleas on first-degree-murder charges at their arraignment in Skagit County Superior Court. Adam Moore, 25, pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter.
Berriault is accused of firing the fatal shotgun blast, while Anderson reportedly drove the car the three were in during a night of drinking and random shooting. Moore was a passenger, authorities said.
Skagit County Prosecutor Tom Verge said yesterday he would decide by August 24 whether to charge Berriault and Anderson with aggravated first-degree murder, which carries the possibility of the death penalty.
That could make this the first death-penalty case to be tried in Skagit County, Verge said.
A trial date for the three was initially set for October 2, though Verge said he doubted the case would be ready to proceed then.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Berriault would face 46 to 58 years in prison and Anderson 38 to 48 years in prison. Moore would face six to nine years on the manslaughter charge.
All three have denied involvement in Lieutenant j.g. Scott Kinkele's killing. But in court papers, authorities describe events they said preceded the shooting of Kinkele on a rural stretch of Highway 20 six miles west of Burlington shortly after midnight July 28. Kinkele, 23, had just stopped to buy gas.
According to the court papers, the three started their day July 27 with several drinks at a tavern in Anacortes about 2 p.m. and moved on to another bar for several more drinks.
After dinner, the three set out in Anderson's 1980 Pontiac Firebird a little after 8 p.m. to poach deer, the court papers said. They headed out with a .22-caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun, authorities said.
At one point Berriault leaned out of the car and fired the rifle at a road sign, according to court documents.
When they approached the Sedro-Woolley area, Berriault fired the gun at a dog and laughed when he heard the dog yelp, a court affidavit said.
About 11:15 p.m., Berriault fired the rifle at a car driven by a 33-year-old Sedro-Woolley woman, who was not hurt, prosecutors said. Berriault has been charged with first-degree assault in that shooting.
When the three saw a police car behind them, Berriault threw the rifle out the window, according to court papers.
Although the three had been drinking heavily, the drinks were spread throughout the day and they did not appear drunk, according to the Skagit County sheriff's deputy who pulled them over for speeding. No one had called police about shots being fired, so the deputy, Dan Luvera, let them off with a stern warning. \
Less than half an hour later, the three accelerated toward Kinkele's car on Highway 20, Berriault leaning out the window with shotgun in hand, court papers said.
Kinkele was shot in the back of the head and died immediately. Verge described the shooting as a "thrill kill."
Kinkele, a San Francisco native, will be buried with full military honors Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C.
About a dozen officers who were stationed at Whidbey Island with Kinkele attended yesterday's arraignment in a show of support for his family, Navy Lieutenant David Richman said.
"This has been a great loss for the base, to
lose a shipmate like this," Richman said. "We're here today for his family
and for him."
A month ago this week, our family and your community were both rocked by the news that our brother, son and friend, Navy Lieutenant Scott Kinkele, was murdered as he was driving home just outside of Anacortes. We were shocked and saddened that such a fine young man was gone.
Scott had a voracious appetite for life. Doing more in his 23 years than most of us have done in a lifetime, Scott lived like he would die tomorrow. He climbed mountains, ran marathons, hiked trails, and flew airplanes. More importantly, he always made sure that those with him had as much fun as he was having.
Now he is gone. The man who has been arrested for his murder, Eben Berriault, has been convicted of killing another man before, using a rock. Berriault was released from prison early on that charge and has now killed again. The information indicates that the killer took Scott's life solely for the thrill.
Scott did not die in combat, nor while training for combat, nor even by accident while climbing the mountains that he loved. He died to provide entertainment for three Anacortes men who were bored. A young man of courage who was willing to stare death in the face and die for each of us, Scott was murdered by cowards who, lurking after dark, shot him from behind. It is a tragic irony that men who killed for the thrill took away a man whose thrill was living.
Because Scott was murdered from a vehicle, your law allows the prosecutor to file aggravated murder charges, the maximum punishment for which is death, and the minimum for which is life in prison without the possibility of parole. Incredibly, it appears that the Skagit County prosecutor may decline to file aggravated murder charges. As a result, the maximum punishment Scott's killer will receive is 58 years, but he will be eligible for release years sooner. In short, if the prosecutor refuses to file aggravated murder charges, Scott's killer may someday, in the early morning hours, drive Highway 20 again.
The prosecutor will formally make his decision September 7. We realize that the prosecutor must consider many factors in making his decision. Higher charges mean higher legal standards, more time, more effort and more of your tax dollars. However, there are causes that are worth the extra resources. Your many letters to our family indicate that you believe that ensuring that Scott's killer never walks your streets again is one such cause. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the man making this decision agrees.
As a result, my mother has traveled to your community to do what she can to ensure not only that her son's killer receives justice, but that your mothers never have to endure what she is enduring at the hands of this man.
Will you help her? Will you make a phone call, write a letter or send an e-mail? Your words have meant so much to us; they will certainly make a difference to your elected officials.
Thank you for your many letters and e-mails of condolences. Thank you to the Navy community, to the craftsman who built Scott's cross, and to the property owner where it stands. Your outpouring of support has sustained us.
Scott now rests in Arlington National Cemetery. His service to our country has ended and nothing will bring him back. However, together, we can ensure that nothing will ever bring his killer back to our streets again. Please join us now in helping to accomplish that.
John and Bret Kinkele are Scott Kinkele's brothers.
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Half-brothers Eben Berriault and Seth Anderson may never again see beyond prison walls.
But by pleading guilty yesterday to first-degree murder in the July 28 shooting death of a naval officer, the pair likely avoided facing the death penalty at trial.
Lieutenant j.g. Scott Kinkele, 23, was shot through the back of the head as he drove along state Route 20 west of the Swinomish Bridge.
"At least Eben will never make it out of prison alive, I promise you that," said Skagit County's tough-talking prosecutor, Tom Verge, after the proceeding. "Hell, he'll be 85 by the time he's eligible for parole."
Verge recommended maximum prison sentences for both men on first-degree murder, assault and weapons charges.
Berriault, 36, who fired the fatal blast from a 12-gauge shotgun, faces up to 55 years in prison. Anderson, 23, who was driving, could serve nearly 40 years.
Verge, who earlier described the shooting as a "thrill-killing," wouldn't say whether he would have sought the death penalty had the men gone to trial.
"But I could have, yes, if we'd gone for aggravated murder," he said.
Skagit County Superior Court Judge Michael Richert will sentence Berriault September 21 and Anderson in mid-October.
A third defendant, 25-year-old Adam Moore, was granted a delay in his case until December 30. He is expected to plead guilty to a lesser manslaughter charge. According to Verge, Moore was in the back seat and was "scared to death," during Berriault's shooting rampage. Moore could spend up to eight years in prison.
After admitting their guilt, Berriault and Anderson signed the appropriate papers with manacled hands.
In court was Mary Kinkele, the slain man's mother. She sat between two of her son's best Navy friends, Ensign Jason Pomponio and Lieutenant j.g. Wayne Hill, both in dress whites. She sat rigidly as the defendants voiced their pleas. Clutched to her breast was the American flag that had been given to her at her son's funeral.
On the night of the murder, Berriault had been shooting up buildings, signs and at least one other car while Anderson drove, prosecutors said. Kinkele died instantly from a shotgun blast through the back window of his Subaru station wagon.
A climber, marathon runner and top Naval Academy graduate, Kinkele had been stationed at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. He was headed home around midnight on state Route 20, and had just cleared the Swinomish Bridge, when Berriault fired.
Outside the courthouse yesterday, Kinkele family friend Don King said Kinkele's mother had hoped Berriault and Anderson would receive at least life sentences.
King, an attorney and a lieutenant in the Navy's judge advocate general's corps at the Whidbey Island base, said he had no official role in the case. But he has participated in his share of criminal trials, both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney.
"And I have to say that this case absolutely
flabbergasted me," King said. "When some of us first heard about it, we
thought 'road rage.' We never expected this."
MOUNT VERNON - An Anacortes man was sentenced yesterday to 55 years in prison for firing a shot that killed a Whidbey Island Navy officer in what prosecutors termed a "thrill kill."
Eben Berriault, 36, was sentenced in the death of Lt. j.g. Scott Kinkele, who was stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
Before the sentencing, relatives, friends and fellow officers of the Annapolis graduate told a Skagit County Superior Court judge what the loss of Kinkele meant to them. A fellow Navy officer testified that Kinkele's death robbed the nation of one of its "best and brightest."
Berriault's mother pleaded for leniency.
Berriault and his half-brother, Seth Anderson, 23, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder earlier this month. Anderson's sentencing was set for Friday.
Kinkele, 23, was shot July 29 while driving on Highway 20 to the air base near Oak Harbor.
Prosecutors say Berriault, Anderson and a third man in their car were out drinking, driving around and taking random shots at lights, signs and other cars.
The men had set out to poach deer, prosecutors said.
Anderson was driving and Berriault fired at the rear window of Kinkele's car, prosecutors said. Kinkele was shot in the back of the head.
The third man, 25-year-old Adam Moore, was charged with manslaughter.
Berriault, a married carpenter with two children, has a criminal record that includes convictions for robbery and manslaughter in the fatal stoning of a 43-year-old man by four teenagers in Chelan County in 1983.
Man gets 38 years in Navy officer's slaying
September 30, 2000
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER STAFF
MOUNT VERNON -- A second man involved in a random killing of a U.S. Navy officer in July was sentenced yesterday to 38 years in prison.
Seth Anderson, 23, of Anacortes pulled his 1980 Pontiac Firebird behind Lt. j.g. Scott Kinkele's car on state Route 20 on July 28 while his half-brother leaned out the window and fired at Kinkele's head with a shotgun, prosecutors said.
Anderson pleaded guilty on Sept. 7 to first-degree murder and first-degree assault as an accomplice. Skagit County Superior Court Judge Michael Rickert sentenced him to 38 years yesterday. With good-time credits, he could be eligible for release at age 55.
half-brother, Eben Berriault, 36, of Anacortes was sentenced to 55 years
Thursday for firing the fatal shot.
One of three men convicted in the thrill killing of a Navy officer has hanged himself in his cell at the Washington State Penitentiary.
Seth Anderson, 23, wrote a suicide note to his family, fashioned bedsheets into a noose and hanged himself January 2, 2001.
Police would not disclose what was in the note, but they said it did not mention the shooting death of Lt. j.g. Scott Kinkele.
"People make a mistake and they can pay for their crime, but you can't wipe out their humanity," said Eva Anderson, the inmate's mother. "The judge said when he sentenced Seth that everything good that he had ever done was wiped away, and Seth asked me, 'Do you think he's right?' I said that every good thing that you've done lives in your heart, and that can't go away.
"He died a peaceful death. He came to terms with things. He died with a loving heart, and he didn't blame anybody."
On July 27, court records show, Anderson, his half-brother Eben Berriault, 36, and a friend, Adam Moore, 25, all of Anacortes, went out to drink and poach deer. They never found any deer, but Anderson drove for hours as Berriault fired out the front passenger window at signs, animals, vehicles and people.
Kinkele, 23, a graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., died of a shotgun blast through the rear window of his car that night as he drove along Washington 20 toward the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, where he was stationed.
Anderson and Berriault pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and were sentenced to 35 and 55 years, respectively. Moore pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to two years and three months.
Anderson arrived at the penitentiary Nov. 16. He was confined to a cell by himself for 23 hours a day, standard procedure for inmates new to the state's prison system, and was not on a suicide watch, a penal official said.
"I know he was depressed, but he didn't give any of the signals that one would expect," said Roy Howson, Anderson's lawyer.
A guard delivering mail found Anderson hanging in his cell, said Matt Wood, a Walla Walla police sergeant.
Prison personnel began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and Anderson was taken to St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, where he remained on life support for two days. Anderson's family authorized removal of life support Jan. 4, Wood said.
"I guess now Mrs. Anderson can sit on the grave
and talk to her son like I can," said Mary Kinkele, Scott Kinkele's mother,
from her home in San Francisco. "When you can't get justice in the courts,
sometimes you get justice from God."
Mary Kinkele, 53, mother of Highway 20 shooting victim Lieutenant (jg) Scott Kinkele, died in her sleep on March 7, 2003, in Santa Monica, California, according to a letter posted on the family's Web site.
Jack Kinkele, Mary's husband of 28 years, wrote that she died during a visit to her father.
"She passed away peaceful in her sleep from still undetermined causes," he wrote.
Scott Kinkele, 23, was shot and killed as he drove toward Naval Air Station Whidbey Island near the Duane Berentson Bridge in the early hours of July 28, 2000.
Seth Anderson and his half brother, Eben Berriault, both Anacortes residents, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
Anderson, then 24, was sentenced to 38 years in prison. He committed suicide in January 2001 at Washington State Penitentiary.
Berriault, then 36, was sentenced to 55 years. A third man, Adam Moore, then 26, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 27 months.
The pleas and sentences enraged Mary Kinkele, who wanted Skagit County Prosecutor Tom Verge to seek the death penalty. She became a bitter foe of Verge. Her active campaign against his re-election contributed to Verge's narrow loss to Tom Seguine last November.
Jack and his son Bret returned to Las Vegas with her remains. Mary will be buried, following a funeral service at the Old Post Chapel on Fort Meyer at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at Arlington National Cemetery -- next to her son Scott. A reception will follow at the Fort Myer Officer's Club.
"I pray that she will finally find the peace
she has never had since Scott's murder," Jack wrote.
It is with sorrow that I write to tell you that Mary died Friday, March 7th, 2003 in Santa Monica, California. She had gone there Wednesday with her father who received bad news earlier that day, to get away and visit Bret for a change of scenery. She drove her brand new car, a replacement for the new Beatle which was in an accident a couple of months ago. She passed away peaceful in her sleep from still undetermined causes.
Bret and I returned to Las Vegas on Wednesday with her remains. As you probably don't know, Mary's mother died on the first of February, at age 91 here in Las Vegas after a brief illness. To say the least, it's been a tough year so far.
Mary will be buried, following a funeral service at the Old Post Chapel on Ft. Myer at 1pm, Thursday April 17th, 2003 at Arlington National Cemetery next to her son Scott. A reception will follow at the Ft. Myer Officer's Club. I pray that she will finally find the peace she has never had since Scott's murder. Mary will be sincerely missed.
Her husband of twenty-eight years,
Posted: 3 August 2000 Updated: 14 October 2000 Updated: 3 January 2001 Updated: 19 May 2001 Updated: 11 April 2003 Updated: 11 September 2004 Updated: 18 August 2008
Photos Courtesy of Holly, August 2008