Quentin Simmons was drunk, angry and armed during the early-morning hours of Dec. 16, 2012. It turned out to be a fatal combination for a man he didn’t even know.
Simmons, 30, shot Rigoberto Daza, an engaged father of a 1-year-old girl, in a pique of anger outside the Sumner Motor Inn that morning. Daza or one of his three companions had spoken harshly to Simmons’ girlfriend, and he decided gunfire was the proper retort.
In Pierce County Superior Court on Friday, Simmons learned his punishment: 37 years, six months in state prison.
Judge Stanley Rumbaugh rejected the 35-year recommendation from deputy prosecutor Stephen Penner and defense attorney Edward DeCosta, saying he wanted to ensure Simmons “is removed from our community for the longest possible time.”
“While you say you were intoxicated, your behavior was that of a homicidal sociopath,” Rumbaugh told Simmons before imposing sentence.
Daza was 23 and in town from California to work on a construction project. He and three companions were in the motel parking lot when a car pulled up next to them, court records show.
The driver, Simmons’ girlfriend, reportedly asked the men if they knew where she could get some marijuana. They told her, in some colorful language, to move on, the records state.
The car pulled a short distance away and stopped. Simmons got out and opened fire with a handgun. Daza died at the scene; his three friends were wounded.
Simmons and his girlfriend fled. They eventually were tracked down and arrested in Georgia. In October, Simmons pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and three counts of second-degree assault.
On Friday, Daza’s parents and mother-in-law addressed Rumbaugh. They described Daza as a hardworking young man who loved his family — especially his baby daughter — fiercely.
Daza’s mother, Jorgelina Daza, said through tears that her son was the backbone of the family and is sorely missed. She asked for the maximum sentence for Simmons, saying she did not want him to get out of prison and kill again.
“If he ever feels sorry for what he did, I hope God forgives him,” Jorgelina Daza said through a Spanish-language interpreter.
Simmons was given a chance to speak. He kept it short.
“I just want to say I’m sorry for the family,” he said.
Rumbaugh then had his say.
“The court has no confidence that your understanding of the enormity of the havoc that you have wrought on our community has really penetrated,” the judge said. “The greatest of punishments is reserved for the most hideous of crimes, and that’s more or less where you fall on the scale, Mr. Simmons.”