Store owner sentenced to 8 years for killing shoplifter

Posted at 1:07 AM, Jun 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-26 01:07:08-04

TACOMA, WA (KIRO/CNN) – Members of a Washington state man’s family were overcome with emotion as he was taken away in handcuffs to serve more than eight years in prison for second-degree murder.

Min Kim, 31, the owner of a convenience store in Tacoma, WA, pleaded guilty earlier this year to shooting and killing Jakeel Mason after he caught the man shoplifting at his store in March 2016.

Prosecutors say Kim pulled a gun on Mason when he spotted him stealing items then put it away when Mason put up his hands and backed away.

Kim then started fighting with the victim, prosecutors say.

When Mason broke free and ran toward the door, Kim shot him twice in the back, killing him, according to an affidavit.

Kim told Pierce County Superior Court Judge John Hickman that he was sorry for the murder and accepted responsibility.

"I did not have [the] right to take Mr. Mason's life or anyone else's life. I feel terrible that I did so and will have to live with that for the rest of my life,” Kim said.

The shooting came a little more than a month after Kim’s wife, Suel Lim, was shot and wounded during a shootout with a robber at the store.

While Lim suffered only minor injuries, the woman told the court the shooting took a toll on her husband.

"I was shot by a robber, and after that, my husband struggled in fear,” Lim said.

Prosecutors asked for a 10-year sentence while Kim’s attorney asked the court for a sentence of just two years, saying his client was still distraught after his wife’s shooting.

The judge decided on a sentence of eight years and four months, saying that despite Kim’s anger over what happened to his wife, he had no right to kill an unarmed shoplifter.

"The use of deadly force when your own safety is not threatened does not justify shooting someone in the back,” Hickman said.

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