By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
EVERETT — The images are like thieves.
They sneak in and rob his family of the good memories. They trespass without warning and keep them awake at night.
Tanja Jones pictures her nephew Derrick Everson, 21, lying on the ground, covered in blood. Sharon Jones sees her grandson standing at her bedroom window. She can’t help him now. The images won’t go away, and the women worry they never will.
His murder has “forced me to live a life I don’t recognize,” Sharon Jones wrote in a letter to Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne.
Wynne on Tuesday sentenced David Kopp to 20 years in prison for the Aug. 20 slaying. The judge followed the recommendation from Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter for a high-end sentence.
Wynne called the killing brutal and senseless.
“Derrick Everson didn’t do anything to David Kopp to cause the murder,” Wynne said. “I have no reason to believe David Kopp will react differently to others around him.”
Kopp, 20, is a danger to the community, the judge said. Wynne pointed to Kopp’s past criminal history and continued proclivity toward violence despite repeated intervention by mental health professionals and the state’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration.
The defendant pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder while armed with deadly weapon. He admitted that he stabbed Everson 25 times on a wooded trail off Broadway in Everett.
Everson, 21, Kopp and two other men were smoking marijuana and drinking beer before the killing, witnesses told police. They were walking to one of the men’s homes when Kopp attacked Everson, Hunter wrote in court papers.
Kopp told police that the attack was unprovoked.
Kopp’s attorney Natalie Tarantino told the judge that Kopp suffered repeated abuse as a child and teen. He has a long history of mental illness.
At the time of his arrest, Kopp told investigators that he is bipolar. He said he hadn’t taken his medication for several days because he didn’t like how he felt when he mixed his prescription with alcohol.
Tarantino argued that Kopp’s mental illness should be treated as a mitigating factor — not an aggravating factor — when determining an appropriate sentence. Additionally, the prosecutor’s office in recent months has agreed to less prison time for young people accused of similar crimes, said Tarantino, a veteran lawyer with the Snohomish County Public Defender’s Association.
Tarantino urged the judge to impose a low-end prison sentence of 13 years.
Kopp gently rocked back and forth during Tuesday’s hearing. He kept his head bowed as Everson’s family asked that he be locked up for as much time as possible.
“I want David to get a 25-year sentence — one year for every stab wound,” Tanja Jones said.
Kopp’s family and friends also sat in the courtroom. Their weeping could be heard as Kopp paused while addressing the judge.
“I truly regret what I’d done last August,” Kopp said. “I see I was sick and I still am. I made the decision to throw my life away. Every day I live I will remember his name. Nothing’s gonna change that.”
Sharon Jones left the courtroom in tears. She was relieved by the judge’s decision. The Everett grandma also empathized with Kopp’s family.
The killer’s mother will live with images of her son locked behind bars.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; email@example.com.