Final guilty plea entered in ‘thrill killing’

Herald staff

MOUNT VERNON — The last of three men charged in the slaying of Navy Lt. j.g. Scott Kinkele of Whidbey Island pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree manslaughter.

Adam Moore, 25, of Anacortes originally was charged with first-degree manslaughter, but pleaded to a reduced charge because of his cooperation in the case.

"We relied very heavily on Adam Moore’s candor and the information he provided enabled us to arrest the shooter and the driver within 48 hours of the crime," Skagit County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Scotty Sells said. "We would have relied heavily on him at trial to convict the shooter and the driver. If we had to give him some consideration to get the principal culprits, we were prepared to do so."

Last month, Skagit County Superior Court Judge Michael Rickert sentenced Eben Berriault, 36, to 55 years in prison, and his half-brother, Seth Anderson, 23, to 35 years in prison for the July 28 murder prosecutors called a "thrill killing." Berriault shot Kinkele, a stranger to him, as he drove west on Highway 20 toward Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

Rickert will sentence Moore Nov. 30. Under standard sentencing guidelines, he faces up to 27 months in prison. Prosecutors plan to recommend a two-year sentence, Sells said.

When a Skagit County sheriff’s investigation led detectives to Moore, he told them what happened as the three were driving around the county the evening of July 27 in Anderson’s car, drinking and listening to music. Along the way, Berriault fired out the car window at a variety of objects, then at a dog, a woman’s car and Kinkele. The woman was frightened but uninjured.

Berriault and Anderson have claimed that Moore was more culpable than he has admitted, Sells said.

"There was even the suggestion that he was the shooter," Sells said. "We considered all this and we don’t believe them. We believe Adam Moore. He was given a polygraph on the critical issues as far as who did what, and he passed it, no question."

Sells and Prosecutor Tom Verge both say the ultimate corroboration to Moore’s description of events that night is that Berriault and Anderson pleaded guilty.

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