A King County Superior Court judge on Friday sentenced a 22-year-old Burien man to 21 ½ years in prison for a gang-related shooting that sent a stray bullet through the window of a chiropractor’s office, killing the business’ office manager.
Adnel Kenjar, who was 17 at the time of the 2018 shooting, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree murder and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. His sentencing hearing was split over consecutive Fridays so the judge could hear arguments on how much time he should serve for firing the bullet that killed Gabriela “Gaby” Reyes-Dominguez, a 51-year-old mother and grandmother.
Both sides filed voluminous sentencing memos, with the state urging Assistant Chief Criminal Judge Michael Scott to impose the 21 ½-year sentence and Kenjar’s defense attorneys requesting a 10-year sentence. Kenjar received credit for the more than four years he’s already been in custody, first in juvenile detention and then in the King County Jail. He was also sentenced to three years of community supervision upon his release from prison.
According to a 2017 state Supreme Court ruling, trial judges must consider mitigating qualities of youth, like impulsivity and a lack of understanding of consequences, when sentencing someone who was a juvenile when a crime was committed but was charged in adult court. The high court’s ruling gave Superior Court judges full discretion to impose any sentence in such cases, unfettered by standard sentencing ranges and enhancements that apply to adults.
The shooting occurred Sept. 19, 2018, after Kenjar and three other teens encountered at Highline High School a 39-year-old man who was an “OG” or “original gangster” in a rival gang. Though no words were exchanged at the school, the man told the vice principal the way the teens were dressed was “disrespectful,” Scott said as he recounted events of that day.
The man, who had gone to the Burien school to pick up his 15-year-old son, slapped his gang tattoos, threw up gang signs and flicked his ear from the sidewalk while the teenagers were stopped at a red light minutes later in their SUV — signaling that he had previously killed someone and was threatening to kill the group of teens, according to Kenjar’s defense team.
Kenjar, who was in the SUV’s front passenger seat, first fired at the man and his son through the driver’s window, then sat on the ledge of the passenger-side window and sprayed more rounds from a 9mm handgun over the hood of the vehicle. The man and his son ran and were not hit.
One of the bullets pierced a plate glass window, however, hitting Reyes-Dominguez in the chest as she sat at the front counter of One Source Health Center at 15217 First Ave. S., according to court records. She died at the scene.
Police later found 11 spent casings in the road.
Defense attorney Emily Gause told Scott that if not for the man’s threatening conduct, the shooting would not have happened. She said Kenjar’s childhood trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder from witnessing a friend’s shooting death when he was 13 were among mitigating factors that hampered his ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.
The 10-year sentence recommended by the defense would “allow him an opportunity for his brain to grow and receive services he desperately needs,” Gause said.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dan Carew countered that the parties weren’t in court for anything the 39-year-old had done:
“He was not armed with a weapon, he didn’t fire those shots, he didn’t kill Gabriela Reyes-Dominguez,” Carew told Scott, noting Kenjar had spent a year at a juvenile rehabilitation facility for his repeated illegal gun possession prior to the fatal shooting.
“While he may now be sorry for the choices he made and the consequences of those choices, he’s still responsible for them,” Carew said of Kenjar. “Mr. Kenjar has apologized, but he’s taken zero responsibility.”
Carew pointed out that because Kenjar was 17 at the time of the shooting, he’ll be offered educational, behavioral health and other programming five years before his release — but would only be eligible for the programming if sentenced to at least 20 years.
In a brief statement to the judge, Reyes-Dominguez’s husband, Jose Antonio Camarillo, said his family continues to suffer from her loss and that he no longer celebrates holidays or birthdays.
“We lost more than one woman — we lost a family,” he said.
In handing down his sentence, Scott said the state had already taken Kenjar’s youthfulness and mitigating factors into account during plea negotiations, when prosecutors agreed to reduce the original charge of first-degree murder to second-degree murder and dismissed two other cases against Kenjar.
Scott noted Kenjar joined a gang at 13 and started carrying a gun everywhere he went, even keeping a weapon within arm’s reach when he showered. Citing a psychologist’s report, Scott said Kenjar had been in so many shootouts with rival gang members that he no longer felt an adrenaline rush and “viewed these conflicts as part of a war.”
“In a very real sense, Mr. Kenjar was preparing for this for years … and he knew the lethality of his violence,” Scott said.
The older man’s taunts and gestures do not detract from Kenjar’s culpability, Scott said, and the shooting demonstrated “his extreme indifference to human life.”