In the Matter of the Personal Restraint of KEVIN LIGHT-ROTH, Respondent.
Light-Roth was convicted of second degree murder in 2004, and
the trial court sentenced him to 335 months' confinement.
In an untimely personal restraint petition (PRP), Light-Roth
argued that State v. O'Dell, 183 Wn.2d 680, 358
P.3d 359 (2015), constitutes a significant and material
change in the law that applies retroactively to his sentence,
excepting him from RCW 10.73.100's time bar. In
O'Dell, this court held while "age is not a
per se mitigating factor," a sentencing court "must
be allowed to consider youth as a mitigating factor
when" relevant. Id. at 695-96.
Court of Appeals granted Light-Roth's PRP and remanded
for resentencing. We reverse the Court of Appeals and hold
that O'Dell does not provide an exception to the
February 5, 2003, Light-Roth, who was 19 years old at the
time, shot and killed Tython Bonnett. At that time,
Light-Roth was living with Chris Highley and dealing
methamphetamine. The evening that he was shot, Bonnett came
to Light-Roth and Highley's apartment. Convinced that
Bonnett stole his shotgun, Light-Roth confronted Bonnett and
subsequently shot him in the chest. Light-Roth then told
Curtis Stream, another friend who was present and witnessed
the murder, "'[I]f you don't want to be a part
of this, you can go ahead and leave. But if you say
anything....' Light-Roth then showed him his gun and made
a slicing gesture across his throat." Mot. for Discr.
Review, App. at 23 (alterations in original). Moments later
Light-Roth enlisted the help of Highley to dispose of
Bonnett's body. Highley followed Light-Roth's
instruction, though he later testified that he did so only
because he feared for his life.
to avoid any suspicion, the next morning Light-Roth told
Bonnett's girlfriend that he believed Bonnett had moved
to New Mexico. Bonnett's body was subsequently found and
Light-Roth was taken into custody. After detectives
interviewed him, Light-Roth attempted to escape by using a
pen to remove his leg shackles and handcuffs.
1, 2004, a jury convicted Light-Roth of murder in the second
degree while armed with a firearm and unlawful possession of
a firearm. At sentencing, the State requested a maximum
standard range sentence of 335 months' confinement. In
justifying its recommendation the State said,
Here we have a Defendant who basically in cold blood murdered
an acquaintance, or perhaps even a friend of his, for really
no good reason at all, if ever you could have a good reason
for taking the life of another human being.
After doing so, he demonstrated a complete disregard not only
for human life but also just a considerable amount of
contempt by the manner in which he disposed of Tython
Bonnett's body and how he conducted himself in the six to
seven days following the murder.
There is absolutely nothing redeeming about this man.
Id. at 45. Defense counsel requested that the court
"impose the sentence in the mid to low range."
Id. at 50. In support of his request, defense
counsel added that Light-Roth was only 21 years old at the
time of sentencing and that attention deficit disorder
"has plagued him throughout his life." Id.
court sentenced Light-Roth to 335 months' confinement.
The sentencing judge explained his decision, stating,
I am satisfied that Mr. Light-Roth demonstrates classic
sociopathic behavior, didn't care about anybody but
himself, and I am satisfied he is dangerous. I am satisfied,
as I pointed out, if he makes it out of prison and does not
somehow change his life, then he is going to get his third
strike, or try to escape and be killed by the police or run
into somebody who is tougher than him who will take his life.
It is a shame that Mr. Light-Roth at such a young age is
basically wasting his life. But at this point I am satisfied,
having listened to the trial, and listened to the pre-trial,
looking at the record, that Mr. Light-Roth's return to
society, if he makes it out, . . . needs to be delayed as
long as possible.
Id. at 57-58.
Court of Appeals affirmed that judgment and sentence on
direct appeal, and this court denied review on April 30,
2008. The United States Supreme Court subsequently denied a
petition for a writ of certiorari on October 6, 2008. In
2016, Light-Roth filed a PRP, arguing that he was entitled to
a resentencing under O'Dell. The Court of
Appeals granted Light-Roth's PRP in a published decision
and remanded for resentencing. In re ...