Jason Kukrall faced Debbie Roscoe in court Thursday, then was sentenced to 26 years in prison for murdering her husband, Steve, during a burglary at the couple’s Elk-area home.
The emotional sentencing hearing came minutes after co-defendant Tobias Stackhouse, 18, announced his intention to join Kukrall, 21, in formally admitting his guilt in the Jan. 11 shooting.
Stackhouse told Pend Oreille County Superior Court Judge Larry Kristianson he will sign a statement acknowledging enough facts about the crime for the judge to convict him. He and Kukrall already have told authorities they shot at the 43-year-old Roscoe after he and his wife came home and caught them in a burglary.
Fighting back tears at Kukrall’s sentencing, Debbie Roscoe said, “This man will never be able to comprehend what he has done to my life and my family’s life.”
She said her two sons “have lost the greatest example of a loving father that anybody could ever ask for.” Not a day goes by for her without the memory of her husband dying in her arms, she said.
Son Brad, 20, regretted his own loss as well as the relationship he envisioned between his daughter and her grandfather.
Steve Roscoe’s brother-in-law, Todd Schrader of Yakima, showed a 12-page edition of the Ponderay Newsprint Co. newspaper that was devoted entirely as a tribute to Roscoe, who had been a technician at the Usk, Wash., plant since 1989. Schrader read two letters from the publication.
One letter was from Roscoe’s son Bryane, 21, who is following in his father’s footsteps as a Navy electrician. The other was from Spokane auto salesman Jay Griffiths, who met Roscoe briefly and was touched by his warmth.
Schrader said Roscoe’s mother, Lorene, is a “very strong woman” who has forgiven Kukrall. Turning to Kukrall, Schrader added, “For myself, I hope this court and God show you no mercy because you don’t deserve any.”
Kukrall agreed: “No matter what I say or do for the rest of my life, I deserve what I get,” he said. “I apologize to the family here today.”
Prosecutor Tom Metzger said Kukrall asked for a copy of the Ponderay Newsprint newspaper tribute to Roscoe, who was an elder in the Church of the Open Bible at Elk.
Public Defender Maryann Moreno noted Kukrall, who served time as a juvenile for first-degree child rape, has had a history of psychological problems since he was in the second grade. Kukrall immediately confessed to murdering Roscoe and has cooperated with authorities since he and Stackhouse were arrested.
Kristianson demanded to know why Kukrall shot Roscoe through the heart even though he knew Roscoe was unarmed and outnumbered.
Kukrall said he didn’t know, but a presentence report says Kukrall at first claimed to have fired his .38-caliber revolver because he thought Stackhouse’s .22-caliber pistol wouldn’t be lethal. Later, Kukrall said he intended only to knock Roscoe down, not kill him.
“It’s senseless,” Kristianson said, imposing the 26-year prison term Metzger recommended.
Metzger said Stackhouse will get the same deal as Kukrall: 90 percent of the maximum standard-range sentence for first-degree murder. In view of Stackhouse’s lack of criminal record, the recommended sentence will be 24 years.
Stackhouse won’t plead guilty so he can preserve his right to appeal Kristianson’s decision to handle the case in adult court. Stackhouse maintains he should have been tried in juvenile court because he didn’t turn 18 until Feb. 2.
Kristianson ordered a presentence report and scheduled a May 18 at which Stackhouse is to be convicted and sentenced.
Kukrall and Stackhouse are suspects but have not yet been charged in the Dec. 1 murder of a prostitute in Spokane and the Jan. 7 burglary and assault at Elk, Wash., in which they stole the guns later used against Roscoe.
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