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He fatally shot a man in Parkland. On Good Friday, he was both sentenced and forgiven

Nathan Kimbrell Jr. sentenced for fatally shooting Wilbur Salway

Nathan Kimbrell Jr. was sentenced to 14 years in prison for fatally shooting Wilbur Salway last year in Parkland.
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Nathan Kimbrell Jr. was sentenced to 14 years in prison for fatally shooting Wilbur Salway last year in Parkland.

Wilbur Salway's family says he was big on forgiveness.

As his niece addressed her uncle's killer before he was sentenced to prison Friday, she found some to give.

"That's huge," Youlanda Jackson told 24-year-old Nathan Kimbrell Jr., "to kill somebody and be offered forgiveness."

Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson sentenced Kimbrell to 14 years for the fatal shooting, which occurred in Parkland March 2, 2017.

That's the sentence both the prosecution and defense recommended after Kimbrell pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier this year.

Sheriff's deputies found 46-year-old Salway with a gunshot wound to his stomach near 126th Street South and Pacific Avenue South when they responded to 911 calls of a shooting there about 2 a.m.

According to charging papers:

Investigators found Kimbrell in the area and later discovered that he had posted a video of himself on social media shortly before the shooting that showed him with a gun and talking about protecting the neighborhood.

Witnesses said Salway had been staying at a hotel nearby and was shot after he heard gunshots and went to investigate. He died from his injuries at St. Joseph Medical Center.

Defense attorney Bryan Hershman told the court Friday that Kimbrell had been violently robbed in the hours preceding the shooting and about two weeks before.

"Was it the spark over the can of gasoline?" Hershman said. "It probably was."

Kimbrell apparently thought Salway was the person who had robbed him earlier and meant to fire a warning shot, not to hurt him, the attorney said.

Deputy prosecutor Lori Kooiman told the judge that Salway had been a core part of his family.

"The court can't do anything to fix what happened here," she said.

Jackson, the victim's niece, told the court that her uncle supported his mother, who has struggled to live on her own since his death.

The mother, "Grandma Bubbles," loves her donuts, Jackson said. Salway was the one who brought her pastries every day.

"It's the simplest things, Nathan," that the family misses, Jackson told Kimbrell.

Salway had five adult children of his own, the family said outside court. He'd been working as a mechanic and was thrilled about a blue Chevrolet Avalanche truck that he'd been able to buy shortly before his death.

Jackson also told Kimbrell that he'd hurt his own family, who she pointed out were behind him in court, crying.

"After 14 years, they're going to be so happy," she said. "They're going to hold you. We have nothing to hold."

Kimbrell turned to look at Salway's family when it was his turn to speak.

"There's no words for how sorry I am," he said as he apologized to them, to his own family and to the judge.

Before he sentenced Kimbrell, Judge Cuthbertson told Jackson that he appreciated her grace.

He also noted Kimbrell's lack of criminal history and letters the court got from his loved ones that described him as a compassionate man who was involved in his 6-year-old daughter's life.

"I believe that you are truly remorseful," said Cuthberson, who added that it wasn't lost on him that the sentencing fell on Good Friday and Passover.

"What I understand is that it's all about sins being forgiven," he said.

Jackson told Kimbrell she's pretty sure her uncle would have forgiven his.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell