Kinkele's killers sentenced
July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:56 PM
"At the end of a marathon sentencing hearing Thursday, a Skagit County judge harshly scolded Eben Berriault before handing down the maximum 55 year sentence in the so-called thrill kill of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Lt. j.g. Scott Kinkele How dare you do this and cause your family so much pain? Superior Court Judge Michael Rickert asked the 36-year-old Anacortes man. How dare you do this to your children and leave them to grow up without a father? How dare you do this to your country?Berriault, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, showed no emotion during the hearing and offered only a short statement in his defense. I wish that it wouldn't have happened, he said. If there was anything I could do to change it, I would.After a much shorter hearing Friday, Berriault's half-brother, 23-year-old Seth Anderson of Anacortes, was sentenced to 38 years and nine months in prison, which is also the maximum under the standard range for first-degree murder for a man without a criminal history. Anderson and 25-year-old Adam Moore were in the car when Berriault leaned out the window with a shotgun and killed Kinkele as he was driving on Highway 20 near the bridge over the Swinomish channel. During over four hours of victim-impact testimony Thursday, friends and family painted a picture of the 23-year-old Navy pilot as an exceptional, dedicated, unselfish man who had everything in the world going for him.Nothing we could say today could fully describe him, said Lt. Shannon Callahan, Kinkele's Naval Academy classmate. All the superlatives are not superlative enough.You may ask yourself after these proceedings, was this guy really that great? The answer is 'No, he was better.' Kinkele's parents, his three bothers, and his Navy and civilian friends described a man with near-mythic energy and drive. He was a mountain climber who loved wintertime ice climbing and escaped certain death at least once. He ran marathons and biked long distances in desert heat for charities. He was the youngest graduate from the Naval Academy and was near the top of his class in academics.He even wrestled alligators in Louisiana and won an award from the Navy for designing a contraption that would allow people to escape from a broken-down submarine.He did more living in those 23 years than most people do in a lifetime, his brother Carl Kinkele said. I never had the opportunity to thank my brother for making my parents so happy and so proud.I've been asked to say what Scott meant to me, his father, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Jack Kinkele said. In a word, everything. ... So I end up as an old man, weak heart and I cannot live vicariously through me son anymore.But mixed into the love and longing for Scott Kinkele was anger for a murder that even Berriault's attorney called senseless. Adam Moore told police that the three men got drunk the afternoon before the murder and decided to poach deer near Mount Baker. On the way back to Anacortes, Berriault started shooting out the window of the car, first hitting signs, a dog, then another car and finally killing Kinkele with a slug from a shotgun.Mary Kinkele showed a 40-minute-long video tape and spoke three different times. She said the tragic irony of her son's murder was that Scott Kinkele was ready to die in defense of his country and its citizens, including Berriault.Unfortunately my son did not die serving his country, she said. He died on a country road for no reason.On the other side, Berriault's family and attorney also pleaded in earnest on his behalf. Yet they each said they had trouble reconciling the good they see in Berriault with the horror he created. I plead mercy for my son, his mother, Eva Berriault Anderson said. I know his heart is good, but he has a cross to bear no matter what his sentence. His attorney, Keith Tyne, read touching letters from Berriault's 9-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.He is a real nice dad and fun. I miss playing with him, the girl wrote. His son offered to sell the family boat and bail his dad out.Tyne also read a letter that Berriault wrote in which he says he was truly sorry for what happened that night, but claims that Moore was lying about who actually pulled the trigger on the gun.But none of this softened Judge Rickert, who said he joins the Kinkele family in their anger. In handing down the lengthy sentence, he said Berriault's actions cheapened and embarrassed the county and caused immeasurable pain.I wish that when I went to judge school they had given me a bag of judge dust that I could sprinkle around and ease all this pain, he said.He gave Berriault 39 years and eight months for the first-degree murder charge and another 15 years and three months for the first-degree assault charge, which was for shooting the car of a Sedro-Woolley resident the same night.Rickert also took an unusual step in defending Prosecuting Attorney Tom Verge for the prosecutor's decision not to charge Berriault with aggravated murder, which carried the possibility of the death sentence. During the hearing several people criticized Verge for that decision and argued that Berriault deserved to die for his crime.Rickert said Verge is a man of integrity and pointed out the risks of going to trial. For Berriault, the earliest he will get out of prison, even with good time, won't be until he is 85 years old.Moore, who has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, is expected to plead guilty Oct. 26. "