Quinn Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison
Jessica Dawn Quinn, 38, of Paden City was sentenced Friday, Oct. 28 to 20 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter and wanton endangerment. This is the maximum sentence Quinn could receive for the offenses.
Quinn pleaded guilty to wanton endangerment and voluntary manslaughter, a lesser charge, on July 20.
She was originally charged with murder and wanton endangerment by the September 2015 grand jury. These charges stemmed from the June 2015 shooting, and death, of Kevin Clark “KC” Thompson, Jr.
Anticipation was high Friday as Judge David Hummel entered the courtroom to deliver the much awaited sentencing of Quinn. She had been subject to a pre-sentencing investigation and the results had been configured and given to Judge Hummel, which he had previously reviewed.
Hummel also announced that the victim’s family, as well as Quinn’s family, had written letters and delivered them to the judge, which he had also previously reviewed.
The parents of Thompson Jr. were not in attendance due to the emotional level of the case, and they had previously submitted their opinions in writing.
There were a few members in attendance to plead in favor of Quinn. Rita Southerland Chambers testified that, “This is difficult for me, because not only do I know Jessie, but I was very very close to KC. I loved them both in my own way.”
Chambers continued, “You can’t change what happened, but you can change how you deal with it. There are many many victims of this horrible accident… I don’t want to see more”. She also pleaded for Jessica’s children and told of how Jessica was fearing for their lives at the time. Chambers ended on this note, “We can always say ‘Well I wouldn’t do that,’ but until you’re in the shoes of a mother who’s afraid for her children’s life, you don’t know what you’d do”.
Quinn’s mother pleaded on behalf of her daughter and brought along photos of Jessica’s children to show visual aid of who could still potentially be affected by the sentencing. She stated that Jessica had raised three children on her own and volunteered her time in the community to help coach basketball. Quinn’s mother said that her daughter is truly sympathetic and “cries everyday for what she’s done.”
Quinn’s attorney, Kevin Neiswonger, announced that, “Jessica never denied it” and that she had been very honest throughout the whole proceeding, emphasizing that it was an accident. He mentioned that the pre-sentence report stated that Quinn was a low risk for a repeat offense and that, “She was been worried about the victim’s families.” At this time, Neiswonger turned to address Thompson’s family and stated, “She has written letters to several of you, but for reasons that you don’t understand, I advised her not to send those letters.”
Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught requested that Judge Hummel enforce the maximum sentence of 15 years for the crime of voluntary manslaughter and five years for the crime of wanton endangerment.
“Whenever you possess are firearm, you are charged with an awesome responsibility. You can never take that bullet back.” Haught continued, “This was no accident… she pulled the trigger; she admitted to pulling the trigger, and she took human life… She is 100 percent responsible for killing a man.” Haught strongly voiced that, “Her (Quinn’s) children will have the opportunity to visit her in prison, but the mother of KC Thompson will never have the opportunity to visit her son again.”
“This is not a case of self-defense. Mr. Thompson did not do anything worthy of of being killed on that day, he was an unarmed man!” Haught argued that, “There is another basic rule of gun safety that every person ought to know, and that is that you always identify your target… it was daylight and she didn’t even take the time to see if he was armed. She didn’t even take the time to identify who it was.”
Quinn was given an opportunity to give her final statement before sentencing.
She stated, “I am responsible… I want to apologize to the family that was affected by this tragedy. What happened was out of panic and fear, and if I could take it back I would, but I can’t. I have to live with this mistake for the rest of my life.”
The hearing began to wind down as Judge Hummel made his final remarks. He mentioned that sentencing serves five basic purposes – being retribution, specific deterrence, general deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation. Hummel said the pre-sentence investigation report is merely an objective tool.
“In this case, Mrs. Quinn believed she knew who she was shooting, which is called transferred intent for legal purposes. She intended to kill somebody, and frankly – from all that I saw – she was going to kill somebody that day,” Hummel stated.
He continued, “Let’s be clear… this was not an accident. While she did not intend to kill KC, she did intend to kill somebody.”
Judge Hummel put the perspective of the victim into consideration, stating from the police report, “She (the witness) observed blood coming from the victim’s mouth and that he was gasping for breath every couple of seconds. That’s KC’s last moments: gasping for breath, gurgling with blood from his mouth.”
Hummel then observed Quinn’s reaction upon finding out that she shot the wrong person. When Quinn had been notified of shooting the wrong person, she spoke with expletives and noted that she did not care and that the victim can go to hell.
“Jessica gave KC a life sentence,” Hummel continued.
“Defense wants the court to believe that this is not black and white, and it is not… it’s all black. It’s dark for Jessica and her family… and it’s all black for KC.”
Judge Hummel then declared that Quinn be sentenced to the West Virginia Corrections for Women for 15 years on the charge of voluntary manslaughter. Hummel added that Quinn be sentenced to five years of incarceration for the act of wanton endangerment. These terms are to be served consecutively for a total of a 20 year sentence.