A Wichita man was sentenced Thursday to nearly 23 years in prison for the Sept. 4, 2012, shooting death of 8-year-old Kimbra Moore.
Zachary Gaston, 25, who pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder, was given the maximum sentence by District Judge Joseph Bribiesca.
The circumstances behind this case are egregious, and they warrant the maximum, Bribiesca said before imposing a sentence that was 15 months longer than one recommended by prosecutors.
Kimbra was sleeping in her mobile home in the 3000 block of South Broadway when a bullet pierced an outside wall and struck her in the head, Wichita police said. Two siblings, ages 4 and 6, were sleeping next to her in the same bed but were not hurt.
A second shot grazed the head of a 46-year-old Kimberly McDonough, who was watching TV with her husband and daughter in a nearby mobile home.
Gaston pleaded guilty last month to reckless second-degree murder, aggravated battery, criminal discharge of a firearm and criminal possession of a firearm. He was originally charged with felony first-degree murder.
Testimony at Gastons preliminary hearing last November showed that the shootings stemmed from an early morning dispute outside an apartment complex next to the mobile home park where Kimbra lived. Police said Gaston fired several shots at a car as it was leaving the apartment, then ran after the car into the Oaks Mobile Home Park and fired again.
A witness at that November hearing said he, Gaston and two other people went to an apartment on South Broadway in an unsuccessful attempt to locate some stolen property. When one of the men drove off in the car the group had arrived in, the witness said, Gaston ran after it and began firing.
The circumstances in this case are very tragic, Bribiesca said. This is a case of a totally innocent 8-year-old child losing her life. Why? Because Mr. Gaston, who wasnt supposed to be in possession of a firearm, decided to pursue and shoot an individual who was driving away from the area.
Defense lawyer Chrystal Krier described Gaston as a drug addict who did not have a violent past. Shortly before the shooting, she said, Gaston moved to Winfield and entered a drug treatment program. Hed been clean for about two months before he returned to Wichita and starting using again.
There is no real excuse for what happened that evening other than that drugs were involved, Krier said. He does not have a violent past.
Krier said Gaston fired at the car as it drove away that night because he mistakenly thought the driver was shooting at him. She said all of Gastons belongings were in the car.
It was not intentional, she said of the shooting. He never meant to harm that child or Ms. McDonnough.
Gaston was tearful as he addressed the court.
Nothing I say, nothing I do right now, can change anything Ive done, he said. I know that Ive got to live with this for the rest of my life. Im sorry.
Among those speaking at the hearing was McDonnough, who said the shooting left her with a memory loss, daily headaches and a reluctance to be around windows.
In my opinion this man should be sentenced to life in prison without parole due to the fact he killed an 8-year-old child, she said.