Man sentenced to 28 years for Shoreline shootings
A King County Superior Court judge on Friday sentenced 21-year-old Joseph Cooley to a prison term just shy of 28 years for the May 2012 shooting death of a 17-year-old girl in Shoreline that also critically injured her friend, then 18.
Seattle Times staff reporter
At the sentencing Friday of his 17-year-old daughter’s killer, Guymil Montgomery readily admitted in a King County courtroom that he wanted to punch the man who fatally shot her outside a Shoreline apartment complex in May 2012.
Tiana Montgomery died a couple of hours after being shot in the torso that night, and her close friend, Darrold Edwards, then 18 years old, spent nearly a month in the hospital recovering from his wounds.
“I wanted to bust you in the mouth. Then I seen you come around the corner, and you’re a kid, a little kid. You’re supposed to be doing something with your life,” Montgomery told Joseph “Joe” Cooley, whose diminutive frame makes him appear far younger than his 21 years.
“You’ve got to be a man now. You chose to make this move, you’ve got to deal with it ... and hopefully come home one day a better man,” said Montgomery, gesturing to the packed gallery to indicate how many people Cooley had hurt with one angry, rash decision to open fire on Montgomery and Edwards .
King County Superior Court Judge Julia Garratt said she agreed to follow a joint recommendation from the state and defense because of Cooley’s lack of a criminal history and young age. She sentenced him to a prison term just shy of 28 years on charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, the low end of the standard sentence range. Both charges carried firearms enhancements.
Edwards’ mother, Sharon Banks-Lee, also addressed the court, telling Cooley that her son pushed himself to graduate high school to honor of Montgomery’s memory, but remains so traumatized by the shooting that he rarely leaves the house. Still, she said, she forgives Cooley.
“I want you to know you hurt me bad,” Banks-Lee said. “You’re just a kid, and I know you made a spontaneous decision. ... You didn’t even know Darrold. He could’ve been your best friend.”
In a brief statement, Cooley said he was truly sorry and hoped his victims’ families and his own would be able to heal from the impact of his crimes.
“I’m not going to hide behind anything but take full responsibility for my actions,” he said.
His mother and sister also spoke, but their sobs and whispered voices made it impossible to hear what they said.
Garratt said she was sure Cooley wishes he could go back to May 16, 2012, and make a different choice.
“It’s quite clear from everything I heard that the long-range, domino effect of the split-second decision you made has impacted a whole courtroom of people,” the judge said.
“I believe you when you say you’re remorseful,” Garratt continued. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t bring back this beautiful young woman.”
Tiana Montgomery and Edwards had gone to the Maplewood Court Apartments in Shoreline to return a cellphone to Edwards’ girlfriend, who was waiting in the parking lot with Cooley and another friend.
Cooley pulled a handgun and shot Edwards because he “was getting ‘buck,’ ” or disrespected, according to charging documents. Edwards was shot four times, including twice in the back, and Montgomery — “a completely innocent bystander” — was shot once in the torso while seated in the driver’s seat of her SUV, the papers say.
She pulled out of the apartment complex at a high rate of speed, but lost consciousness, at which time Edwards took the wheel, according to the papers. He flagged down responding King County sheriff’s deputies in the middle of the intersection at North 185th Street and Aurora Avenue North, about a mile east of the shooting scene.
Montgomery died a couple of hours later at Harborview Medical Center, while Edwards spent nearly a month in the hospital recovering from his wounds.
Cooley turned himself in to police five days after the shooting.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information in this article, originally published Oct. 18, 2013, was corrected Oct. 29, 2013. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the victims, Tiana Montgomery and Darrold Edwards, were cousins. Though Montgomery’s father, Guymil Montgomery, referred to the victims as cousins in court, they were not related.