A 16-year-old boy was sentenced Thursday to 15 years behind bars for fatally shooting a man during a 2018 botched drug robbery in Hazel Dell.
Minutes before the sentencing, Oriley J. Huynh of Vancouver pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to second-degree murder. The sentence was based on a joint recommendation between the prosecution and defense and was near the middle of the standard sentencing range for Huynh’s case as defined by the state.
Huynh at one point faced first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm charges in Clark County Juvenile Court. But after a hearing Feb. 6 in juvenile court, prosecutors agreed to move the case and alter Huynh’s charges in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Gage Allan Kiser.
Deputy Prosecutor Kristine Foerster said that she spoke at length about the case with Shon Bogar, Huynh’s court-appointed defense attorney. Some of the main factors in the agreed recommendation included legal precedent, Huynh’s age and the brutal nature of the crime.
“It is very difficult to determine what the appropriate punishment is for such a violent crime committed by someone of Mr. Huynh’s age,” Foerster said before recognizing the victim’s loved ones. “Of course, it’s not going to be enough time.”
Tristan Alexander Cienfuegos, 16, and Terrance J. Busby, 18, faced similar charges for their involvement in the incident. Cienfuegos was sentenced in juvenile court to remain in a juvenile facility until age 21 after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree murder. Busby was convicted of first-degree robbery and sentenced to a range of 3½ to six years.
Prosecutors said that around 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 10, 2018, the boys planned to rob Kiser of marijuana at Pacific 63 Center, 6204 N.E. Highway 99. The plan took a fatal turn, though, when Huynh shot the Vancouver teen several times.
Kiser was pulled from his still-running Jeep by witnesses, who attempted CPR, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. After emergency responders arrived, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy revealed that Kiser was struck four times, according to an affidavit of probable cause. Kiser suffered entry wounds in his left shoulder and two in his back, as well as an exit wound on the right side of his chest.
Cienfuegos was identified as the marijuana buyer, Huynh as the shooter and Busby as the getaway driver, according to court records. Kiser is survived by a daughter and four younger siblings, according to his mother, Debra Cook.
A victim’s advocate with the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office read statements from three of Kiser’s siblings and a friend during Thursday’s hearing. As the statements were read, Cook and Kiser’s sister Teenah Kiser, 8, stood off to the side of Judge Gregory Gonzales and held photo collages of their son and brother.
In her statement, Teenah described her brother as a regular source of comfort.
“I don’t have anywhere to go to anymore when I’m sad,” the statement read. “Where am I going to go when my mom is at work and I’m scared?”
Skyler Kiser, 17, wrote in his statement that he was at the scene of the shooting and held his brother’s lifeless body in his arms. Still grappling with the tragedy, he said he was unable to attend the hearing.
“I said, ‘I love you Gage,’ ” Skyler Kiser’s statement read. “I hope he heard it.”
Bogar said that, starting with his first interview with police, his client was remorseful and recognized the loved ones that Kiser left behind.
“That’s a level of remorse we don’t see,” Bogar said, comparing Huynh to typical defendants in murder cases. “They didn’t go there with the intent to harm anybody. They went to commit a very stupid robbery.”
For Foerster, Gonzalez and himself, each of whom see numerous murder cases every year, it will be “without a doubt a case that all three of us will remember,” Bogar said.
After wiping away tears, Huynh apologized and recognized that the shooting left a father, brother and son dead.
“What happened that day should have never happened,” Huynh said. “That will stick with me every day I’m here on this earth.”
Before issuing the sentence, Gonzales said Huynh made a “terrible choice” and called the crime “senseless.”
“Mr. Kiser didn’t deserve to die over a bag of marijuana,” Gonzales said.
The judge asked Huynh to remember the incident and think about how to grow from it “every single hour of every single day.”
“Sadly, for the next 15 years, you will be locked in an institution,” Gonzales said. “At least you have that chance. Mr. Kiser will never have that chance.”