People want answers when something horrific happens. They want to know, perhaps more than anything, why?
Sometimes, there’s no answer.
Such appears to be the case for Melvin Edwards, a 15-year-old Puyallup boy who was sentenced Friday under a scheme that will keep him locked up for at least 19 years and possibly for life.
Edwards pleaded guilty earlier this year to attempted first-degree murder, second-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping for luring a 7-year-old neighbor girl into the woods, sexually assaulting her and then trying to choke her to death.
He was sentenced as a juvenile on the attempted murder charge and will remain in the custody of the state’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration until his 21st birthday on that count.
Superior Court Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck on Friday added another 13 years to life in adult prison for the rape and kidnapping charges. The end date would be decided by the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.
The girl’s mother was in court for his sentencing. She said her daughter is recovering but that “her mind isn’t at all where it should be or where it used to be.”
The woman, whom The News Tribune is not naming to protect the identity of her daughter, had a question for Edwards, but she acknowledged he probably did not know the answer.
“I’d like to ask him why he did this,” the woman told van Doorninck. “But something tells me he doesn’t know why.”
Edwards’ attorney, Philip Thornton, conceded as much.
Thornton said he and deputy prosecutors Kevin Benton and Angelica Williams had “spent a lot of time and money trying to reach that answer,” but that it had remained elusive.
What is known is that Edwards came from a difficult background and has a learning disability, factors that likely played roles in his crime, the defense attorney said.
“Melvin is remorseful. He’s sorry,” Thornton said. “He’s accepting responsibility for his actions.”
Edwards – slight, bespectacled, nervous – offered only a mumbled, “I’m sorry,” when given a chance to speak.
Van Doorninck then took her turn.
The judge told Edwards what he did was “horrible, just unspeakable,” and that she hoped he used his time in juvenile detention, which has special programs available to help kids, “to try to understand why this happened.”
“Good luck, Melvin,” van Doorninck said as detention officers led him out of court.