Family and friends of Malijha Grant let out a soft cheer and words of praise when a judge announced a sentence that will keep Marty Kime, 27, in prison until his early 70s for fatally shooting the 1-year-old baby girl and firing shots at her parents’ car nearly four years ago in Kent.
“May God be the glory, thank you Jesus,” one woman said after King County Superior Court Judge Johanna Bender issued a sentence of 48 years, six months to Kime on Friday at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent for second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and firearm enhancements on each charge.
Kime faced a standard sentencing range of 48 to 61 years. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in January 2016.
A jury in November convicted Kime of the charges in what Senior Deputy Prosecutor Adrienne McCoy described as a drive-by, gang retaliation shooting. She described to the jury how Kime targeted Martrice Grant-Walker, the baby’s father, but instead the shots hit Malijha as she rode in a car seat in the backseat of her parents’ vehicle late in the afternoon of April 16, 2015, near Reith Road and Lake Fenwick Road as they headed home from the Safeway grocery store.
“I feel a relief,” said Lisa Lynch during a brief interview after the sentencing.
Lynch said she would “continue to do what I do everyday and wake up and make sure the world remembers her,” and that she would do what she can to, “stop gun violence and stop gang violence.”
McCoy recommended a 50-year prison sentence, based on a violent criminal history that included an assault in 2006, a robbery at gunpoint in 2010 and an assault in 2012.
“And while pending trial on this matter, he and others committed what amounted to a group assault on a mentally-ill man in the jail,” McCoy said. “That man suffered a fractured, dislocated tooth and facial lacerations.”
McCoy said Kime drove the car that followed Grant-Walker’s car and that either Kime and/or his passenger fired the shots that killed Malijha. Lynch drove the car while Grant-Walker sat in the front passenger seat. Neither was hit by the shots. Kime is a Low Profile gang member while Grant-Walker is part of the rival Deuce 8 gang, both in Seattle. McCoy said Kime also planned the shooting. Kent Police have not arrested anyone else in connection with the shooting.
“He’s not just a danger to Martrice, not just a danger to Deuce 8 but a danger to this community,” McCoy said. “He has demonstrated that through his conduct in this case and through his long criminal history.”
Defense attorney Lisa Mulligan recommended a sentence of 25 years, based on an effort to show that Kime’s youthfulness impacted his decisions.
“The court’s have been recognizing increasingly the difference between the actions taken by someone who is younger in light of scientific developments and understanding brain development,” she said. “Even though Mr. Kime at the time of this incident was a little bit older (23) than a lot of the cases have dealt with, he was still within that range of time when the brain continues to develop.”
Bender later rejected Mulligan’s request for an exceptional sentence on the basis of youthfulness.
“This crime was committed when Mr. Kime was approximately 23-and-a-half years old,” Bender said. “I’m not aware of any other cases where 23-and-a-half was considered youthful.”
Kime addressed the judge and said he didn’t commit the crime.
“I apologize to the family for their loss,” Kime said. “Like I said from the beginning, I did not commit this act nor was I a participant in this act.”
Kime said a jury found him guilty because a baby had been killed and that the prosecutor simply came up with a story about the gang retaliation.
“They put me as the face of this case, so I will take everything that comes with it,” Kime said.
Kime said he didn’t even know Grant-Walker.
“I don’t like a couple of Deuce 8 people, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and shoot at every Deuce 8 member I see,” he said. “I don’t even know Martrice to know that he’s from Deuce 8 to even put him in a position where I’m going to get a strike (killing a rival gang member) off of that. I don’t give a (bleep) about strikes.”
Kime then spoke to Malijha’s parents.
“I want to tell Lisa that I apologize for her loss and tell Martrice that I am sorry for his daughter being killed in a stupid, stupid act – the most stupidest act of violence that I can even think of,” he said. “I apologize, not because I did this, but because no family should have to bury one of their loved ones.”
Lynch said outside the courtroom after the sentencing that she’s glad Kime finally apologized.
“That’s all I’ve been asking for four years – an apology – if you say you did it or not,” Lynch said. “Do you mourn for this little girl is all I care about.”
Grant-Walker didn’t attend the sentencing. Kime and Grant-Walker each exploded in anger in the courtroom in November shortly after the announcement of the jury’s guilty verdict. Police and correction officers swarmed to each man to keep them from fighting each other.
Because of that outburst, court officials decided to move the sentencing hearing to the basement court at the Regional Justice Center used for arraignments that has a glass partition to keep people in the gallery separate from the defendant, judge and attorneys.
Lynch and several other family members and friends – from a microphone stand behind the glass – addressed the judge and Kime prior to the sentencing.
“Daughters are supposed to be a mother’s best friend – her most precious treasure – and you took that away from me forever,” Lynch said. “The loss of Malijha has brought us an arrange of difficult emotions – numbness, guilt, anger, emptiness, disbelief and deep sadness.”
Lynch said she doesn’t understand why Kime fired at her family. Now she wants her daughter’s death to potentially help lead to the end of gang violence.
“Everyday I wake up for the community and I try to represent my daughter’s name because this gun violence and this gang violence is not OK,” she said. “I play this incident over and over in my head wishing I could change this, but in reality nothing could change this but you. …Her body’s dead but Malijha’s life and spirit will live on forever through me, her family and the community.”