Kinkele's killers plead guilty
July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:53 PM
"Two half-brothers from Anacortes escaped a trial and the possibility of the death penalty Thursday by pleading guilty to the murder of 23-year-old Whidbey Island Navy junior officer Scott Kinkele.Eben Berriault, the 36-year-old man investigators say pulled the trigger, and Seth Anderson, 23, both pleaded to first-degree murder in Skagit County Superior Court.For Berriault, the guilty plea could very nearly amount to life in prison. He faces up to 58 years imprisonment, which would make him 94 years old before he would walk free again.Berriault, who was convicted of manslaughter as a teen-ager, faces between 46 to 58 years in prison. Anderson faces between 38 and a half years to 48 years.For the families of both the victim and the murderers, the pleas were expected but not welcome.Mary Kinkele, Scott Kinkele's mother, has been in the Puget Sound area for the last three weeks campaigning to have the charge against Berriault increased. She said he deserved to be put to death for so senselessly killing her youngest son. In Las Vegas Friday, retired Air Force Officer Jack Kinkele said he and has wife are disappointed that their son's killers escaped the death penalty. He said the family is disappointed in the approach of Skagit County Prosecutor Tom Verge.We feel he didn't do his job, he said. He took the easy way out by letting them plead out.Kinkele said he and his wife plan to be at the sentencing hearing to plea for the longest possible sentence.Berriault is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 21 at 9:30 a.m. Anderson is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 12. The third man involved in the shooting, 25-year-old Adam Moore of Anacortes, is scheduled for a plea and sentencing hearing on Oct. 26.Verge has called the July 28 shooting a thrill kill. According to investigators, Berriault, Anderson and Moore went on a drunken shooting spree up and down Highway 20 between Anacortes and Sedro-Woolley that ended in Kinkele's murder. Berriault aimed the rifle out the window of the car which Anderson was driving. He shot a dog, signs and a car driven by a Sedro-Woolley woman, but did not injure her.Shortly after midnight, the men pulled up behind Kinkele's car near the Swinomish Slough bridge. Berriault aimed a shotgun at the driver, pulled the trigger and put a slug in the back of Kinkele's head, killing him instantly, according to the affidavit of probable cause.Yet Eva Anderson, Berriault and Anderson's mother, disputes the official police version of the murder and what the guilty plea means. She says Berriault is not admitting that he was the shooter by taking the plea.Everybody who was involved was equally guilty, she said. I believe Eben was not the shooter.Instead, she points to Moore, who cooperated with investigators and was charged with a much more lenient charge.She also said the media has unfairly characterized Berriault as a cold-blooded killer who has murdered before. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a 1983 Chelan County case in which a group of teen-age boys killed a middle-aged man by beating him with rocks. The older man, she said, was a convicted child molester who furnished the boys with drugs and alcohol and then taunted them about their sexuality.Eben was just along for the ride, she said of the 1983 case. He did not strike the fatal blow.In the Kinkele case, she said the men have to take responsibility for their actions but she said their death would not have eased anyone's pain.It's a terrible, terrible tragedy and I feel sorry for the part my sons played, she said. They were foolish, really foolish, but alcohol does that to people's minds. "