Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson wanted to know Friday what led two people with supportive families to rob and fatally shoot someone in a seedy part of Tacoma.
That’s what the Pierce County judge asked 29-year-old Brandi Rye and 32-year-old Marcus Boykin before he sentenced them to decades in prison for second-degree murder, in front of family of friends who said both were raised better.
The answer, at least in part, was drugs.
Boykin and Rye are part of a group of four charged with trying to rob Kevin Young of drugs and money in his room Aug. 20, 2014, at the King Oscar Motel, 8820 S. Hosmer St.
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Both apologized in court to Young’s family for his death.
Young’s father, Richard Young, said his son had his own struggles, but had been getting himself back on track.
“He didn’t deserve this,” Young said. “... He was only 41 years old. He lost half his life.”
Young was shot in the stomach during the robbery, and Cuthbertson gave the shooter, 34-year-old Raphael Smith, 20 years and 10 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last month.
That’s the same sentence he gave Boykin on Friday: He and Smith are the ones prosecutors said were in the room when Young was shot.
The getaway driver, 34-year-old Aron Skaro, got 3 1/2 years after he pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery last month.
Rye got 16 years and eight months. She wasn’t in the room at the time, but prosecutors said she helped set Young up. She knew his girlfriend and hung out with him earlier in the night.
Cuthbertson noted Rye was a top student when she graduated from Steilacoom High School in 2005.
“How do you get from honor roll to Hosmer Street?” the judge asked, adding, “Nobody in their right mind is hanging out at Hosmer Street at 2 a.m.”
Drugs, Rye told him.
“That one hit,” she said. “I did it, and it just went down hill from there.”
Cuthbertson said he hoped she’d do programs in prison that would help her parent her 8-year-old son again one day.
Boykin’s path to late-night Hosmer Street seemed similar. He had little to say when the judge asked what led him there, but his cousin offered a few thoughts.
“It’s the drug world,” Duane Daily told Cuthbertson. “My cousin, he wasn’t raised like that. … We both didn’t grow up with fathers.”
Cuthbertson said all bets are off when drugs are involved, and especially when a gun is in the mix.
“This has got to stop,” the judge said.
As she watched her son in court Boykin’s mother, Cynthia Boykin, echoed under her breath: “It’s got to.”