October 14, 1995 in Nation/World

Teen Will Be Tried As Adult In Killings Chilling Lyrics About Violence Found In 15-Year-Old’s Cell

William Miller Staff writer

Neatly written by hand on a sheet of paper, the rap-style message reeks of violence and obscenities.

The author, 15-year-old Kenneth Comeslast Jr., brags about being a “Crip for life” and gunning down rival gang members.

“Once I get out of this pen … pop, pop, pop is all you’re gonna’ hear … so back off and you won’t get dropped by Tiny and his crew, ‘cause we’re ready to do what we came to do.”

A Spokane County judge read those excerpts aloud in an emotion-choked courtroom Friday, moments before booting Comeslast - an accused double killer - from the juvenile justice system.

“I’m not convinced he can be rehabilitated,” Superior Court Judge Neal Q. Rielly concluded.

The ruling means Comeslast, who maintains his innocence, must face aggravated murder charges as an adult. He is charged with shooting two girls to death and wounding a third in an Aug. 9 ambush outside a Hillyard home.

If convicted, there is only one possible sentence: life imprisonment without parole.

Comeslast’s “gangsta” rap was seized by authorities a few weeks ago in his isolation cell at the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center.

After reading it, the judge said he doesn’t know if the teenager is pretending or really predicting violence.

“If he’s walking the walk,” Rielly said, “then he’s a threat to the safety of this community.”

In making his decision, Rielly rejected a psychologist’s opinion that the boy is immature, unsophisticated and likely to be rehabilitated.

The judge said he was swayed by chilling police testimony.

Detectives Minde Connelly and Nick Stanley said Comeslast, who goes by the street name “Tiny Smurf,” acted alone.

He snuck up on his victims in the darkness and, standing about six feet away, fired at least five rounds from a high-powered assault rifle, Stanley said.

Witnesses described Comeslast as wearing dark clothes and gloves, and covering his head with a hood.

He practiced shooting the rifle the day before, detectives said.

The night of the bloodshed, Comeslast and some friends cruised by the East Central home and spotted the girls talking on the front porch.

Connelly said Comeslast was in control, directing the group to stop for ammunition before returning to East Central. The shooting erupted shortly before 2 a.m.

Kendra Grantham, 16, and Cindy Buffin, 17, were shot in the head and killed.

Afterward, Comeslast is accused of squeezing off another 11 rounds at nearby homes while trotting backward to his friend’s station wagon.

Police haven’t provided a motive for the shooting, other than to call it “gang-related.”

Due to the seriousness of the charges, Deputy Prosecutor Bill Reeves and probation officer David Kirkman recommended Comeslast be treated as an adult.

He would literally get away with murder in the juvenile system, they argued, since the harshest punishment he could receive is a 5-1/2-year sentence. After Comeslast turned 21, he would be released without any restrictions.

“When you get down to it,” Kirkman told the judge, “it seems a puny consequence for two deaths.”

Reeves called the killings “cold-blooded” and “ruthless.”

“Two children were murdered,” he said. “They weren’t bothering anybody. They were on a porch and they were gunned down.”

If Comeslast was 16 at the time of the killings, he would have been automatically waived into adult court under state law, Kirkman said.

But defense attorney David Carter said there’s another side to Comeslast.

That’s the fresh-faced boy known as “Junior,” who plays with G.I. Joes, reads comics in a backyard treehouse and cries when his mother scolds him.

Sharon Comeslast said her son is generally well-behaved and obeys his 10 p.m. curfew on school nights.

“He’s just a kid,” she said.

But in recent months, he began sneaking out of their East Francis house when she was asleep to hang out with older boys in the neighborhood, police reports show.

He also developed a fascination with guns. In May, he injured himself in an accidental shooting. The following month, police caught him with a handgun - one of a number of pending charges.

“Did that concern you?” Reeves asked Sharon Comeslast.

“Yes, it did, because I don’t like guns,” the mother of six said.

What about gangs?

“I’ve talked to all my kids about gangs,” she said. “To me, it’s a bunch of nonsense.”

Kenneth Comeslast has no history of drug or alcohol abuse. His criminal record consists of a 1994 burglary, in which he stole frozen turkeys from a refrigerated boxcar.

The former Holmes Elementary crossing guard and DARE graduate has never held a job and has lived with his mother all his life, Carter said.

Emotions ran high during the six-hour hearing and security was unusually tight.

In the morning, sheriff’s deputies tossed two teenage boys from the courtroom after they were heard making plans to attack Comeslast.

The tension mounted when the prosecution called its first witness: The mother of one of the victims.

Wearing a long black dress and clutching a tissue, Mable Grantham walked slowly past Comeslast on her way to the witness stand.

Her job was to identify the victims from a color photograph. It showed her daughter and friend Buffin smiling.

But when Reeves handed Grantham the picture, the mother broke down and sobbed.

Seven hours later, she cried again - this time shedding tears of relief as Rielly announced his decision.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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