WALLA WALLA - Angela Effinger was sentenced this morning to 10 years and three months in prison for murdering a woman during a fight in September in the vicinity of the former Blue Mountain Mall.
Effinger, 30, looked straight ahead and nodded in understanding when the sentence was imposed by Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann following a half-hour hearing. She was led from the courtroom at the County Courthouse a short time later.
Effinger pleaded guilty April 12 to second-degree murder in the stabbing death of 18-year-old Audrey Brewer, who had started a relationship with Effinger's former boyfriend, Andrae Jackson.
In handing down the sentence, Lohrmann went along with the low end of the standard sentencing range as recommended by county Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle in a plea agreement, which also reduced the case from first-degree, premeditated murder.
Lohrmann gave Effinger credit for the 301 days she's served in the County Jail and placed her on three years of community custody, a form of probation, when she is released from prison.
Before the sentence was imposed, Effinger tearfully said, "I didn't mean to hurt (Brewer)." Effinger's attorney, Jim Barrett, read a statement she prepared in which she acknowledged taking Brewer's life, expressed remorse for choosing to drink heavily and then fight with Brewer, and prayed for forgiveness.
Effinger's statement also included claims that her years with Jackson were filled with physical and emotional abuse. Barrett said Jackson - who attended the fight between Effinger and Brewer - had instigated it, therefore Barrett asked for an exceptionally low prison term of five or six years for his client.
Lohrmann declined to depart from the standard range of 10 years and three months to 18 years and four months. But he said there is a strong indication Effinger was acting unlike herself when she killed Brewer.
While calling the crime horrendous, Lohrmann pointed out that Effinger has no criminal history whatsoever, was in a difficult mental state as the result of an abusive relationship with Jackson and "something snapped."
"She certainly was greatly manipulated," Lohrmann said.
Brewer's father, Bert Brewer, earlier had asked the judge for justice and said he hoped his family could find a way to move forward. In an interview following the sentencing, he said he and Brewer's mother, Tanya Brewer, are satisfied with the length of the prison term based on the regret expressed by Effinger in her statement.
Bert Brewer said they believe good things can come from the tragedy and "that seems fitting in the memory our daughter."
Effinger and Audrey Brewer had agreed to meet and fight in the Sears parking lot about 1:15 a.m. Sept. 6, police said.
Before arriving, Effinger armed herself with a kitchen knife and, in a text message to Jackson, threatened to "scalp" Brewer, according to a police report filed in court.
Effinger claims that in the parking lot, Brewer confronted her with a clenched fist, so Effinger began punching first and Brewer started punching back.
Effinger then reached into her pants pocket, grabbed the knife and swung at Brewer's right shoulder, piercing the aorta just above her heart. She was pronounced dead at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.
Effinger left after the stabbing and drove home, where she was located and taken into custody.