(By Jamie Henneman/Chewelah Independent)
Judge declines exceptional sentencing requests from defense, prosecution…
At a sentencing hearing last Tuesday, Judge Pat Monasmith sentenced Sherman Akina, 21, to 90 months jail for the crime of first degree manslaughter.
Akina was convicted of the crime in a jury trial in May for hitting Jon Bumatay with his car on a residential street in Chewelah during a dispute about Akina’s girlfriend. The jury found Akina guilty of first degree manslaughter, a lesser charge than the second degree murder sought by the prosecution.
The jury found that Akina was guilty of killing Bumatay due to reckless behavior, as in the case of manslaughter, and not due to intent, as required by a murder charge. The standard sentencing range for first degree manslaughter is six and a half to eight years in prison.
Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said the prosecution had argued that Akina’s actions did show intent and deserved more than the usual manslaughter sentence, manslaughter sentence, recommending 102 months jail with three years’ probation.
“I am not against the jury, but this crime showed a directed purpose and Mr. Akina’s behavior afterward did not help,” said Rasmussen, explaining that Akina hid the car after the incident and did not attempt to help Mr. Bumatay. “He has sat emotionless through the trial and the only time when he showed emotion is when Kayla Rainer said she would never have anything to do with him. Only when he felt loss, that’s what touched him. But the Bumatay family’s grief cannot be assuaged in 102 months, not in 20 years.”
In contrast, Akina’s defense lawyer Bob Simone argued that Akina was only 19 years old when the crime was committed and that “youth have to be treated differently than adults.”
“There is a lack of emotional cognitive development with youth and they don’t know how to express their emotions. That’s why he didn’t portray emotions during the trial and that was interpreted by the prosecution as smugness,” Simone said. “The binge drinking that took place that night is just another sign of immaturity. Driving a suped up 4 cylinder car with no muffler is also the behavior of a 19 year old boy. The social consciousness and awareness was missing.”
Simone asked that Judge Monasmith consider a downward sentencing regarding the jail sentence and only impose five years.
Relatives of both Akina and the deceased Jon Bumatay addressed Judge Monasmith, as well as Akina himself.
“I am sorry. I never meant to do it. I hope you believe me. I wish I could bring him back,” Akina told Bumatay’s family. “From being incarcerated this whole time, I just want to look at the sky. I want to have a job, it’s something to do. I want to do something with my life.”
After hearing testimony, Judge Monasmith explained why he decided to decline both the prosecution’s request for a longer sentence and Simone’s request for less jail time.
“This has been a difficult and contested trial. Both families are hurting and nothing will satisfy either party, but your mom and your sister still have you,” Monasmith told Akina.
Monasmith also told Akina he was not persuaded by Simone’s argument that Akina was too young to know what he was doing.
“You have been able to work, to drive a car, to maintain a lengthy relationship,” Monasmith said. “Youth does not reduce culpability and punishment is accountability. The Bumatay family has had something taken from them you had no right to take.”
Monasmith sentenced Akina to 90 months in jail with three years’ probation. The prosecution said at the sentencing there are anticipating an appeal.