A Kent man received the minimum sentence of 25 years in prison Friday for killing 21-year-old Shiloh Drott in 2008 by firing a gun through the window at the Pacific Community Center.
Despite tearful pleas from Drott’s family members for the maximum possible prison term, King County Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen sentenced Sopheatheara Kim at the bottom of his range. The maximum term would have been 31 years, eight months.
“I’m very disappointed,” said Melissa Monroe , Drott’s mother, after the sentencing at King County Courthouse in Seattle. “He got the minimum. … We have a lifetime to get through and he should too.”
Kim, 23, shot a handgun eight or nine times through a window into the center where 25 young people were reading Bibles, playing games and eating pizza Nov. 14, 2008, according to charging papers. One bullet struck and killed Drott, of Pacific.
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Kim pleaded guilty June 4 to first-degree murder with a firearm enhancement, just days before jury selection was to start in his trial. Kim did not admit he was guilty but conceded that he would likely be convicted if the case went to trial.
As part of Kim’s plea agreement, prosecutors recommended the minimum sentence.
Inveen said she was respecting the plea agreement, although she considered levying a longer sentence.
Citing letters she’d received, Inveen said the shooting affected the entire community of Pacific, a city of 6,290 straddling Pierce and King counties.
“That community will never be the same,” Inveen said.
Monroe said at the sentencing that she was laying what she described as a curse upon Kim “for an awakening of conscience that you feel the burden of the murder of Shiloh.”
Kim showed little emotion.
“I’m sorry for the loss,” he said. “I truly apologize for what happened. Please forgive me.”
Last year, two 21-year-old Pacific men, Chatri Lime Thip and Salomon Nora Phe , pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance in the first degree. Thip hid Kim’s handgun, and Phe transported Kim in his Jeep after the shooting, according to charging papers.
Thip and Phe are out of jail and scheduled to be sentenced July 23. They could receive prison terms of six to 12 months.
According to charging papers, Kim told Thip that two men were “mean mugging” him – street talk for giving a threatening look – in a nearby convenience store before the shooting. Kim walked across the street and looked into the community center through a window.
Thip told authorities that Kim exchanged challenging body language with someone inside the building before Kim pulled out a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and eventually fired it multiple times through the window.
At Friday’s sentencing, a cousin of Drott’s broke into tears describing the chaos as bullets riddled the window, killing the person dearest to him.
“It was just so horrible that he was taken from us so early,” said Jake Mitchell, 23, of Auburn.
Chris Hill, 25, Drott’s half-brother from Pacific, said Drott was doing two things he loved most the night he was killed – playing basketball and hanging out with friends.
“You took everything away from him that night,” Hill told Kim.