Friday’s hearing was almost too much for Shawn Palmer’s grandmother to endure.
As she listened to her husband describe what he called “the most tragic thing that’s ever happened to us in our 60-plus years of marriage” – the murder of their grandson – her knees buckled.
As a lawyer scrambled to find her a chair, her husband continued.
“It’s indescribable and unthinkable for us to wrap our minds around it,” he said. “It’s the greatest loss we’ve ever felt.”
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After an afternoon of emotional testimony, Edward Ladish – who was convicted last year of second-degree murder, aggravated battery and theft – was sentenced to nearly 40 years in prison.
Palmer, 25, was fatally injured July 5, 2014, after being run over by a stolen pickup at a south Wichita QuikTrip.
After waking up that morning to find his pickup stolen, he and his elder brother, Jeremiah, had gone to the QuikTrip and found it.
The 1993 Ford F-150 pickup was being driven by Ladish, and when the Palmer brothers attempted to recover the pickup, Ladish drove off.
After being dragged through the parking lot, Jeremiah was injured. Shawn, who had been dragged farther, was fatally injured.
In court Friday, a third Palmer brother, Seth, said he had “never met a man or woman, or anybody alive, that ever worked as hard or as well” as his brother.
“Ever since then, I’ve lost consciousness,” he said. “Every day since just felt like it was a continuing dream, and I’m lying there waiting to wake up.”
Every day since just felt like it was a continuing dream, and I’m lying there waiting to wake up.
Seth Palmer, brother of Shawn Palmer
Jeremiah Palmer expressed frustration to Judge Jeffrey Goering that Ladish’s sentencing procedures had been continued multiple times since September.
“The last time in court (in January) was the most pathetic and disrespectful thing my family’s ever had to go through – having to sit and listen to that person try to make a victim of himself,” Jeremiah Palmer said. “He’s had second chance after second chance, and he’s proven time and time again that he’s not worthy to walk the same streets as you and myself, your honor.”
Ladish was sentenced to 460 months for the second-degree murder conviction, nine months for the aggravated battery conviction and seven months for the theft conviction – all to run consecutively, for 476 months total.
He addressed the court before the hearing concluded, indicating it was his “definite plan” to appeal the sentence.
“I’ve never hurt a person in my life,” Ladish said. “I have a big-brother complex – I stick up for the weak.
“I do have issues, and I know that I need help when it comes to those issues, but I know I didn’t do this. You say I was on meth on the time – I was. … I don’t remember everything, but I know I wasn’t in that truck.”
When Shawn Palmer died, his organs were donated. His liver saved the life of a close family friend.
Nearly everyone in the Palmer family told Goering their memories of Shawn on Friday:
The way he gave the best, firm hugs.
The way he would never cash checks that were given to him as gifts.
The way that, through the donation of his liver, he was able to save the life of his friend, Larry Warren.
As Goering read Ladish’s sentence, Jeremiah Palmer gripped the hands of family members sitting around him. His face was red. He bit his lip, appearing to hold back tears.
“Nothing will give back anything to our family, but it can start a healing process,” he said in court.