Man gets 38 years for 2012 fatal shooting outside Tacoma party

Staff writerJune 5, 2014 

Devennice Gaines admitted in Pierce County Superior Court on Thursday that he's no angel.

Yes, he said, he has a long criminal history that includes convictions for manslaughter and assault.

"All the ones I've been through, I did them, and I pled guilty to them," Gaines told Judge Thomas Felnagle.

But he did not, he insisted, fire the shots that killed Bruce Price outside a Tacoma after-hours party two years ago.

Somebody else did that, Gaines said, but he is taking the fall.

A jury in April found otherwise, convicting him of second-degree murder, and Felnagle on Thursday gave Gaines the high end of the sentencing range: More than 38 years in prison.

"There was just no reason for it," Felnagle said of Price's death.

Price, 40, died April 15, 2012 after being shot multiple times at close range outside a building near South 23rd Street and Fawcett Avenue.

Prosecutors contended at trial that Gaines got into a fight with a man in a wheelchair at an after-hours party inside the building just moments before. Gaines was walking to his car when Price reportedly berated him for picking a fight with the man, court records show.

Gaines, 37, pulled out a pistol and fired several shots at Price, killing him, the records show.

The defendant's attorney, Philip Thornton, argued that someone else shot Price, a contention he maintained Thursday.

"I disagree with the jury's decision," Thornton said.

Deputy prosecutor Gregory Greer did not and asked for the high-end sentence, saying Gaines committed an "unnecessary and irrational act."

There was no reason for him to shoot Price, Greer said.

"I guess that just shows the viciousness of the defendant at that time in his life," the deputy prosecutor said.

Thornton was up next.

He described his client as "smart, funny, honest, cares for his children."

"Now, he's essentially going to die in prison. It's a shame," Thornton said.  "Whether you sentence him to the high end or whether you sentence him to the low end, Mr. Gaines is going to die in prison."

Gaines then got his chance.

He said he sympathizes with Price's family and friends and feels bad for their loss.

But Gaines insisted again he did not kill the man.

"Everybody knows who the shooters really are," he said. "At the end of the day, they've got to bring the hammer down on somebody, right?."

Felnagle got the last word, calling Price's death "senseless."

"This was a crime of violence with no decent basis in logic, and it put the community at risk," the judge said.




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