YAKIMA – One of the two men convicted of killing aspiring Yakima rapper Da’Marius Morgan outside The Seasons Performance Hall last year maintained his innocence Friday as both were sentenced in Yakima County Superior Court in front of the victim’s outraged supporters.
“I’m not the guy that everybody makes me seem to be,” Luis Rodriguez-Perez said. When he described his conviction as a “big loss,” a Morgan supporter responded with an obscenity.
A dozen Yakima County corrections officers came in to ensure order as Rodriguez-Perez, 21, and William Martinez, 19, were sentenced to 22 years in prison.
At times, some of the roughly 30 people in the gallery yelled “murderers,” prompting Judge Richard Bartheld to admonish them to be respectful.
Morgan, 22, was fatally shot March 22, 2014, at a concert spotlighting local musicians. Rodriguez-Perez and Martinez were arrested a short distance away.
In April, a jury found them guilty of second-degree murder, and Martinez was also convicted of unlawful firearms possession.
While Morgan’s relatives sought a harsh sentence, they acknowledged that it would not bring him back.
“This is a tragedy for everybody, the family of Da’Marius and the family of the gentlemen involved” said Michael Morgan, the victim’s father.
Muriel Evans, Morgan’s mother, wrote in a letter that the killing had changed the family forever.
“What gave you the right to do such a hateful thing?” Evans wrote. The letter was read by her brother, Brian Houston, who said the pair had more than enough chances to spare Morgan’s life.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter