EVERETT — The murder of Steven Whitemarsh was “an execution, plain and simple,” a judge said at his killer’s sentencing Friday.
“I’m quite convinced that if you were released from prison, you would do this again,” Judge Millie Judge told the defendant, Simeon Berkley, 75.
Judge sentenced Berkley to 22 years behind bars for a road-rage shooting in Everett that killed Whitemarsh on July 6, 2019.
Berkley claimed self-defense, but this month a Snohomish County Superior Court jury found him guilty of second-degree murder with a deadly weapon.
Thirty years earlier, Berkley claimed self-defense in the shooting of another driver, in California. After a near-crash on I-8, Berkley shot and paralyzed Richard Durkin, then 31, of San Diego County. A jury acquitted Berkley of attempted murder, attempted manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Berkley testified earlier this month in the Snohomish County case. As the only witness called by the defense, he claimed he feared for his life when Whitemarsh, 49, began tailgating him in a gold Lincoln Navigator on West Mukilteo Boulevard.
The Lincoln crashed into the back of Berkley’s Honda on Glenwood Avenue. Berkley got out of his car and walked toward the Lincoln. Whitemarsh remained in the front seat. According to Berkley’s testimony, the other driver did not brandish a weapon or make any threats, but Berkley still felt threatened by him. Berkley shot Whitemarsh twice in the head with a .380-caliber pistol.
“You became a vigilante at that moment,” Judge said to Berkley and the courtroom. “You walked up to his car, you shot and killed him. It’s amazing. He was still in his seatbelt.”
The victim’s brother, Matthew Whitemarsh, trembled and held back tears as he spoke on his brother’s behalf Friday.
“Today, judge, I stand before you and ask you: Please consider giving the maximum sentence,” he said. “My brother’s killer should never see the outside of prison for the remainder of his time on Earth.”
Berkley, in a green striped jail uniform, sat 10 feet away. He turned his body 90 degrees to listen better to the slain man’s brother.
Under state guidelines, Berkely faced a range of 15¼ to 22½ years behind bars. Deputy prosecutor Matt Hunter asked the judge for a 20-year sentence.
“The cold-blooded nature of his crime, coupled with the cold-hearted nature of his testimony, cannot be ignored,” Hunter wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “While Mr. Whitemarsh’s mother and brother sat in the jury box listening, Mr. Berkley described his execution of Steven Whitemarsh, without a hint of emotion, care or concern.”
Berkley declined to address the court Friday.
His defense attorney, Laura Shaver, requested a sentence of five years. She argued a longer sentence could mean Berkley would die in prison.
Whitemarsh, who lived in Everett, was a Safeway manager and father.
“He was a loving son, he was a brother and most of all he was a caring and loving father of three wonderful children,” his brother Matthew told the courtroom.
The children were uprooted from their father’s home, their uncle said. Now they must begin to “try to grieve the one person who was always there for every birthday, (every) Christmas.”
“This will never bring back my brother, but it closes the chapter of a senseless killing,” Whitemarsh’s brother said in court. “Hopefully, it will also bring closure to Richard Durkin, because he never got that 30 years ago.”
This story has been updated to correctly identify the victim’s brother.
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen.