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Lizarraga gets 38 years in prison for Kent murder of Devin Topps

Jessica Berliner, a King County senior deputy prosecutor, tells the jury on Dec. 16 why they should convict Jorge Lizarraga for the 2010 murder of Devin Topps, whose photo stands behind her. - Kent Reporter, file photo
Jessica Berliner, a King County senior deputy prosecutor, tells the jury on Dec. 16 why they should convict Jorge Lizarraga for the 2010 murder of Devin Topps, whose photo stands behind her.
— image credit: Kent Reporter, file photo

Jorge Lizarraga received a 38-year prison sentence on Friday for the 2010 murder in Kent of Devin Topps, 18, a popular student athlete at Kentridge High School.

King County Superior Court Judge Patrick Oishi sentenced Lizarraga, 23, at the King County Courthouse in Seattle.

Lizarraga has a significant criminal history and based upon those prior convictions and the second-degree murder conviction, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Berliner asked the judge to impose a 40-year sentence, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

A jury convicted Lizarraga in December of shooting Topps after a Halloween party in 2010 outside of a Kent home. They also convicted him of two counts of violation of the uniform firearms act (for being a convicted felon in possession of firearms), residential burglary, theft of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm.

Topps, a popular Kentridge student and football player, became involved in a fist fight with another man outside a house party when Lizarraga pulled out a gun and fired multiple shots into the air, causing people at the party to scatter, before he walked up to Topps and shot him once in the back. Topps died at the scene.

Jurors heard from more than 40 witnesses during the six-week trial and saw nearly 170 exhibits.

Berliner told jurors during closing arguments that the evidence included nine shell casings found by Kent Police at the scene that matched the gun Lizarraga had stolen four days prior to the shooting of Topps during a burglary of a Washington State Patrol trooper's home in Federal Way. He then used that gun to shoot Topps.

Detectives later recovered that gun in a Des Moines motel room where Lizarraga stayed after the shooting. Kent Police arrested Lizarraga in December 2010 for the murder of Topps.

Berliner said the other evidence included witness accounts and text messages that showed Lizarraga attended the party.

Prior to the shooting, Topps had left the party to walk a friend to her car. Someone in a group outside the house made a comment to Topps that theĀ  Kentridge star didn't like. A second comment led to a fight between Topps and two other men before Lizarraga reportedly entered the fight and shot Topps once in the back.

Topps had signed in 2010 to play football at Eastern Washington University but didn't enroll in the school because of low grades. He had hoped to enroll at Eastern in winter 2011.

Nearly 1,000 people attended the memorial service for Topps in 2010.

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