Third man sentenced in highway killing

Herald staff

MOUNT VERNON — An Anacortes man shook uncontrollably Thursday as he stood before a judge and apologized for not doing something to avert the death of a Navy flier who was gunned down July 28 on Highway 20.

Skagit County Superior Court Judge Michael Rickert listened to Adam Moore’s stammered comments but had little sympathy.

Rickert sentenced Moore to 27 months in prison for his role in Navy Lt. j.g. Scott Kinkele’s murder, the maximum under the state’s sentencing guidelines for second-degree manslaughter.

Both the prosecutor and defense attorney had recommended a two-year sentence.

Rickert wanted to impose a longer sentence, but found no legal grounds to do so, he said, adding that he found the sentence "very distasteful."

Moore went driving with fellow Anacortes residents Eben Berriault, 36, and his half-brother, Seth Anderson, 23, after hours of drinking together. They set out to poach a deer.

Anderson drove around the county while Berriault, in the front passenger seat, fired a rifle or a shotgun at numerous objects and finally at two cars. The woman driving the first car was terrified but not injured. When Anderson’s car came up behind Kinkele’s, Berriault shot him in the back of the head, killing him instantly.

"Your big failure wasn’t in not getting out of the car," Rickert said. "Your failure was in not doing something to stop this. All those opportunities to do something and you sit by and watch this man get slaughtered. (Navy officers) don’t do that to prisoners of war."

Rickert detailed the many opportunities Moore had to intervene, including when a Skagit County sheriff’s deputy stopped the car for speeding.

Moore, 25, struggled to speak before the judge imposed sentence, and nodded in agreement as the judge castigated him for all the things he did wrong. Moore criticized his cowardice and said he relives the incident daily and grieves.

Kinkele was a promising young aviator, an accomplished mountain climber and runner.

Chief criminal deputy prosecutor Scotty Sells told the court that his office reduced the charge against Moore from first-degree manslaughter in acknowledgement of his cooperation in detailing for investigators what happened that night. Without him, Sells said, prosecutors couldn’t have taken the case to court.

Berriault and Anderson pleaded guilty to aggravated first-degree murder and were given 55 years and 35 years in prison, respectively. They disputed Moore’s version of events and accused him of lying.

Moore passed a polygraph test and investigators believed him, Sells said.

Defense attorney Rob Jones described Moore as an observer rather than a participant, "the weak sister of the three," and said the brothers never discussed firing out the window before it happened.

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