The murderer Lucas Rasmussen sat silently in the courtroom Thursday as tears streaked so many cheeks.
“I’m not quite sure there are any ways to make this more tragic,” said Cowlitz Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning before he sentenced Rasmussen to 27 years and 9 months in prison for the killing of Alisha McLeod this spring.
Rasmussen, 36, pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder and second-degree burglary in a plea deal.
He will have to serve at least 25 years of his sentence, county prosecutor Ryan Jurvakainen said earlier this week.
Friends and family of McLeod came to the sentencing Thursday, and some spoke on her behalf near a portrait of the woman, who was 29 when she was killed.
“She was my sunshine. She was my child, my youngest,” her mother, Marie Fleming, said through her tears. “And for what it’s worth I miss her everyday, but no amount of hatred in this world will bring her back. None.”
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Her brother said no justice was being served.
“No matter what, it doesn’t seem fair to think that my sister doesn’t get the opportunity to have another breath to go through her body,” Jason Candaso said, “but the person who took that chance away has a chance to take a breath outside those walls again.”
McLeod had been helping Rasmussen recover from a drug addiction — as she recently had — when he murdered her with a hammer at her Longview apartment March 1.
Rasmussen declined to make a statement Thursday.
His defense attorney said Rasmussen had been hospitalized for a psychotic episode just before the murder. He has a long history of such episodes as well as a long battle with meth addiction.
“This in no way lifts the blame from Luke’s shoulders or his conscience,” the attorney said. “Luke accepted responsibility. It wasn’t a long, drawn-out affair, it wasn’t a game of chicken waiting for a trial date. He has taken responsibility.”
Before sentencing Rasmussen to 333 months in prison and three years of community custody, Judge Warning called his crime “unfathomable.”
“I’m not going to fix anything today for anybody,” Warning said. “A lot of people are here from the drug court program (McLeod also went through), a lot of faces I recognize, and if there’s anything positive that’s going to come from this, it’s that you folks are going to convince one person to get clean and to stay clean.”
Contact Daily News reporter Brooks Johnson at 360-577-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.