EVERETT — A Lynnwood man can expect to spend the next three decades locked away in prison for fatally shooting a high school student in the back last year and then bragging about what he called his “first confirmed kill.”
Charles Courtney, 25, was sentenced Wednesday for the Oct. 6, 2015, murder of Anthony Boro.
The 16-year-old Mariner High School sophomore was among a group of young people who had gathered in the parking lot of the apartment complex where Courtney lived.
The defendant, a “smug and boastful” drug dealer, confronted the young people with a handgun, chasing them into the night, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Bowden said.
Boro was running away when Courtney took aim and shot the teen from behind. The bullet snapped Boro’s spine and pierced his heart.
Courtney “was intending to kill him. And he did just that,” Bowden said.
The defendant had no legal justification for his actions, the judge said in sentencing Courtney to 32 years behind bars.
A jury in September found Courtney guilty of first-degree murder and heroin possession. When he was arrested for the killing, the defendant was carrying a .357-caliber handgun and he had drugs in his pocket, packaged and ready for sale.
The defense had argued that Courtney was in a state of hyper-vigilance after being told earlier in the evening that people who had threatened to kill him were in the area.
Courtney had been in the U.S. Army and served a tour in Iraq. At trial, his attorney had jurors listen to an expert who suggested the man was living with post traumatic stress disorder and reacting as he’d been trained in the military.
The jurors weren’t convinced and neither was the judge. Bowden said the record of Courtney’s military service did not support his claims of living through combat, but it did document plenty of trouble, including problems with drugs that led to him leaving the Army.
Deputy prosecutor Jarett Goodkin asked for nearly 36 years in prison, the maximum punishment under state sentencing guidelines.
He reminded the judge of testimony that Courtney had seemed proud of Boro’s death, referring to it as his first confirmed kill.
“Since that time he has done nothing but brag about it and justify it,” Goodkin said.
Public defender Whitney Rivera asked the judge to impose no more than 20 years behind bars, departing from sentencing guidelines. She cited Courtney’s age and lack of prior convictions. She also said it would be difficult for her client to express remorse about the shooting while under her instructions not to discuss the case.
Courtney followed that advice Wednesday, offering nothing except thanks to his wife and others for standing by him since his arrest.
Boro’s family urged the judge to hold the man accountable. His grandmother, an aunt and a close friend talked about their struggles with grief and loss.
The judge also was presented a letter from the slain teen’s younger brother.
“It has been over a year since that night but it seems like yesterday,” the boy wrote. “Things are different now at home.”
The brother he loved to scrap with is gone. They didn’t go camping this year. There have been bad days when he gets “so mad I break stuff,” the boy wrote.
He asked the judge to punish Courtney.
“Can you please make him go to jail for a long time,” he wrote. “He took my only brother from me.”
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.