Grant Scantling had no felony history before he broke into a Kennewick home on March 22, threatened his former fiancee with her kids in the bed, and fatally shot a roommate who had rushed to help.
Six months later, Scantling was told he likely will die behind bars because a jury found his actions that morning were premeditated.
Judge Robert Swisher had no discretion Thursday in the sentence, ordering life without the possibility of parole for aggravated first-degree murder. He also handed down a three-year term for a first-degree burglary conviction.
“This is a sad day. It’s a sad trial,” Swisher told Scantling. “The Palmer family has lost Mr. (Franklin) Palmer, and Mr. Scantling, you’re going to prison for the rest of your life, and that hurts more than you.”
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Scantling nodded his head when the judge spoke, and replied, “Yes, sir.”
He didn’t have much else to say to the court, other than wanting “to express my personal condolences and my apologies” to Palmer’s extended family.
A Benton County Superior Court jury deliberated for about two hours Sept. 12 before returning the guilty verdicts.
Scantling, 42, tried to claim he acted in self-defense when he shot Palmer, but he did not take the stand to testify in his trial.
Defense attorney Alexandria Sheridan told Swisher on Thursday that her client and his family asked her to tell the victim’s relatives that they are “truly sorry.”
Scantling’s mother and stepfather were seated in court behind him. Sheridan said the parents have been supportive of Scantling throughout the case, “but most of all wanted justice to be served.”
She also thinks Scantling has “shown remorse in this matter, and is willing to accept the judgment of the court and the jury,” she said.
However, before the hearing was over, the defense filed a notice of Scantling’s intent to appeal the conviction.
Scantling reportedly was mad that his ex-fiancee, Ann Marie Krebs, had slept with Palmer shortly after the two broke up in November. Then, just days before the fatal shooting, Scantling tried to visit his two young kids and had the door slammed in his face.
Krebs has three children, two with Scantling, and testified that if he’d given her notice that day she would have had a different response. It was the first time he’d tried to see his children in more than two months.
On March 22, Scantling stole a loaded gun from his brother-in-law’s home and drove from Spokane to confront Krebs. He threw a cinderblock through a sliding glass door and jumped on top of Krebs in her bed.
Krebs said he held a hand over her neck and pressed the muzzle of a gun to her forehead while making threats. The three kids were in bed next to her and woke up screaming.
When Palmer and houseguest Michael Billado tried to come to Krebs’ aid, Scantling turned and fired one shot, hitting Palmer, according to trial testimony.
He then chased the men down the hallway, where Palmer collapsed into an open linen closet.
Meanwhile, Billado ran out the front door and down the street, calling 911 to say an ambulance was needed at the East Eighth Place home.
Palmer was shot two more times and died from his wounds. A forensic pathologist said he may have been paralyzed from two of the shots.
Prosecutor Andy Miller read a letter from Palmer’s family, who called Scantling a monster and said they hope that every day he feels the gravity of his actions and no longer is allowed freedom because it is a privilege.
Krebs -- who now lives in Michigan and had been planning to leave town with her kids the day of the shooting -- told the court in her own letter that she wants to keep things positive.
“He’s not a violent person. That is not something he would do again,” she said, with Miller reading the letter. “His kids miss him. He was a good father when he was around and a good provider when he was working.”
Krebs further said that drugs changed Scantling.
“We’re working through the negative trying to get past this,” she said. “My kids are resilient. We will be OK.”
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; email@example.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer