Questions swirled around a Snohomish County courtroom Tuesday seeking the answer to why a Seattle teenager participated in the brutal beating and stabbing death of a friend and classmate.
There were few solid answers.
In the end, Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair sentenced Joshua Goldman, 19, to 25 years behind bars.
“No explanation will provide much measure of comfort to John Jasmer’s family and friends,” Fair said. “In the end, we’re left with a shocking murder, and we’re left with more questions than answers.”
Goldman pleaded guilty in August to first-degree murder in Jasmer’s death. He and co-defendant Jenson Hankins lured Jasmer to an isolated spot on the Tulalip Indian Reservation on Aug. 21, 2003, where they attacked and killed him. Then they buried him in a grave they had dug the day before.
A jury convicted Hankins of first-degree murder last week; he will be sentenced in December. All three were students at Seattle’s Roosevelt High School.
Goldman, who was 17 at the time of the murder, tearfully read a statement and could offer no explanations for his actions.
“I’m truly sorry,” he said. “John didn’t deserve this. I can’t explain why I committed this terrible crime.”
Goldman apologized to the Jasmer family and to his own family. His father is a Marysville police officer.
In accordance with a plea agreement, deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler recommended a 22-year prison term, the minimum. A pre-sentencing report recommended 24 years, and the most Fair could have imposed was a little less than 29 years.
Defense attorney Max Harrison argued long and hard for the judge to stick to the low end.
In his long career as a defense lawyer, Harrison said he has never been involved in a case in which the questions absolutely defy explanation, Harrison told the judge.
Perhaps the murder came out of a twisted sense of justice, he said, because Hankins’ girlfriend had reported that Jasmer had sexually assaulted her two months before the murder. Maybe the fact that Goldman was involved in playing violent video games contributed to it.
Goldman also had a need to be accepted by Hankins, and he lived in a kind of a fantasy world, Harrison said.
“Josh Goldman has zero insight into why this occurred,” he added.
Perhaps the most eloquent words came from the victim’s mother, Donna Jasmer, who recalled Goldman laughing and hanging out at her home in happier times. She noted that the teen walked into the courtroom dressed in orange jail garb, not street clothes, and wished it could have been otherwise.
She also thanked Goldman for leading police to her son’s grave. It was so well hidden it may never have been found if he hadn’t done so. Still, she wanted the judge to impose the minimum sentences plus two years for the “pain and suffering” of the family.
“I wish I could say I hate him,” she said. ” I don’t.”
Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or email@example.com.