Olujimi Blakeney killed a woman he didn’t know over a beef that wasn’t his.
For that, the 26-year-old man likely will die in prison.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Brian Tollefson on Wednesday sentenced Blakeney to 61 years, 8 months for the July 22, 2010, shooting death of Tacoma resident Lisa Melancon.
Melancon, a well-liked city code enforcement officer, was hit once in the head when she stepped onto her porch to call in her husband, who’d gone outside to break up a fight involving one of Blakeney’s friends. She was 40.
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A jury last month convicted Blakeney of first-degree murder and other crimes for firing the fatal bullet from a car speeding away from the area after the fight.
Jurors concluded he showed an “extreme indifference to human life” when he shot his .38-caliber revolver into a group of neighbors in the 7200 block of South Bell Street.
The neighbors went outside after Blakeney’s friend got into a fistfight with a young man who lived next door to the Melancons. An exchange of nasty text messages between female acquaintances of the combatants precipitated the fight.
Blakeney went along with his friend to watch but brought a gun with him.
On Wednesday, Melacon’s father, Manny Silva, called what Blakeney did “cowardice.”
At death, each person must answer for the acts committed in his name, Silva told Blakeney during his sentencing hearing.
“Right now, all I can see your name meaning is you were a coward and a murderer,” he said.
Silva then urged those in attendance to “kiss your children every night and tell them you love them because you never know when another Blakeney is going to show up.”
Melancon’s mother, Kathy Silva, pointed out that Blakeney’s given name means “gift from God” in some African languages.
“I wonder if God feels you’re a gift now,” Silva told Blakeney.
Melancon’s brother, Vinney Silva, told Blakeney not to apologize. He blew his chance for forgiveness when he fled to California after the shooting instead of turning himself in, Silva said.
“It’s too late for that now,” he told the defendant. “I’ve always wanted to forgive, but at this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to.”
Deputy prosecutor Jerry Costello, who prosecuted the case, then asked Tollefson to impose a sentence at the high end of the standard range.
Blakeney is a career criminal with no respect for the law and no value for human life, Costello said.
“He has forfeited his right to ever live again free in our society,” the deputy prosecutor said. “He belongs behind concrete walls and razor wire.”
Defense attorney Michael Clark asked Tollefson for a low-end sentence of about 50 years.
“Going into this case there was no violence in Mr. Blakeney’s history,” Clark said.
Blakeney declined a chance to address the court.
“He does not wish to speak, your honor,” Clark told Tollefson.
The judge then accepted Costello’s recommendation, which brought smiles and handshakes from relatives and friends of Melancon.