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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Neighbor killer gets 100 days in jail

By Ken Kobayashi
Advertiser Courts Writer

Kendall Edmonds wanted to back off from a confrontation with his neighbor at a Pearl City apartment complex in 2004, but when the man uttered a racial slur, Edmonds got into a fight that led to his neighbor's death.

City prosecutors yesterday asked a state judge to sentence Edmonds to a maximum 20-year term for manslaughter for recklessly killing Michael Gillum during the 2:30 a.m. confrontation at their Pearl City apartment complex on Aug. 9, 2004.

They played a video of Gillum's funeral and his sister denounced Edmonds.

"You cannot kill someone because they say something that makes you mad," Gillum's sister Patrice Collins said, shaking with anger.

But Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto said Gillum escalated the confrontation with "incendiary" racial slurs that enraged Edmonds, who did not know a single punch would kill Gillum.

"It was unforeseen," the judge said.

Sakamoto went along with the defense request to place Edmonds on 10 years probation. The judge also ordered Edmonds, who already spent 54 days behind bars, to immediately start serving another 46 days in jail.

Edmonds, 24, who was in the Navy at the time, was initially charged with murdering his 46-year-old neighbor, but pleaded guilty to the lesser manslaughter charge after prosecutors concluded that Edmonds acted recklessly rather than with an intent to kill.

Collins told the judge her brother complained about the noise because he wanted his daughter to get some sleep to prepare for school.

The girl, now 15, wept as she read a statement. "I will always cherish all the memories I have with my dad," she said. "I love him. I miss him so much."

The family asked that the girl not be identified by name.

City Deputy Prosecutor Albert Cook asked for a maximum 20-year term. He said Edmonds knocked his neighbor down with a punch, then straddled his motionless body and struck him another four or five times.

William Bento, deputy public defender, said his client's television was loud, but he didn't instigate the altercation. Edmonds wanted to back off after Gillum pounded on the door and tried to get him into a fight, but the slurs were "very serious" for the "young African-American man."

Bento said Gillum threw the first punch, which Edmonds avoided. Edmonds then punched Gillum, the fatal blow, which ruptured a blood vessel in the base of the brain. "Mr. Edmonds had no knowledge one punch could have caused that injury," Bento said.

Bento said Gillum's blood-alcohol level was .085, which is above the legal limit for driving, and he had the drug THC in his system. Bento said Edmonds does not have a prior criminal record and the fight was an "isolated incident in his life."

"I have deep regret for what happened," Edmonds told the judge.

Appearing to choke back tears, Edmonds said if one of his relatives were killed, he'd ask for the same kind of sentence.

"I'm sorry for the Gillum family," he said.

Edmonds spent the 54 days in jail before he was released on $25,000 bond. He was permitted to go back to his hometown of Bessamer, Ala. Yesterday, he was led from the courtroom by sheriffs to start serving the rest of the 100-day sentence.

Sakamoto said the jail term was for Edmonds to reflect on a "good life taken and the lost and broken hearts" caused by the "unfortunate acts" that led to the death.

Reach Ken Kobayashi at kkobayashi@honoluluadvertiser.com.