The robber who fatally shot Jennifer Scott will serve at least 10 years in prison. Her family says he should be there for life.
Deb and Alan Scott said that they that believe the man who killed their daughter should spend the rest of his life in prison. Kivian Heard, who pleaded guilty last month to second-degree unintentional murder, was sentenced to 15 years, as recommended by state guidelines.
Jennifer Scott always wanted to help.
There was the dog she spotted on a trip from Colorado to Minnesota, struck by multiple cars, probably already dead. She scooped it up and took it to an animal hospital anyway.
Or the teenagers she brought home -- close friends or strangers -- because they needed a safe place to stay.
In the 17-year-old's last good deed, she gave a ride to a man who robbed, pistol-whipped and fatally shot her. When he was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday, her parents said the lack of justice was as tragic as her death.
"This whole proceeding was only about the killers and their rights and justice for them," said Jennifer's mother, Deb Scott of Highlands Ranch, Colo. "Jennifer would have been swept under the rug. She wasn't just a kid out running the street causing problems. Jennifer contributed to this world, and it's a tragedy that she wasn't really represented."
Scott was just finishing her shift at the Mall of America's Nickelodeon Universe in July when two young men asked her for a ride. She obliged. When they tried to rob her in a Brooklyn Center apartment complex parking lot, police said, she tried to walk away. She was pistol-whipped so hard her skull was fractured in two places before she was shot in the head. Police arrived to find her dead on the concrete next to her car.
On Thursday, an apologetic Kivian Heard, 19, was sentenced in a case that the judge called a "heinous" crime and a loss for everyone involved, including Heard's family. Heard admitted striking Scott with the gun when it accidentally went off.
Heard, who pleaded guilty last month to second-degree unintentional murder, was sentenced to 15 years, as recommended by state guidelines. If he behaves, he will serve the last five years on conditional release. He will likely be 28 when he is freed.
Scott's parents, who believe their daughter was intentionally shot, said that he should serve life in prison.
"At 28 years old, he still has opportunity ahead of him," Deb Scott said. "Jennifer doesn't get a second chance."
A second defendant, Deshawn Brasson, 17, is scheduled to stand trial as an adult for second-degree unintentional murder in March.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said that the case was difficult because there wasn't enough evidence to prove that Heard intentionally shot Scott. Premeditation must be proven to gain a conviction of first-degree murder, which is punishable by life without parole. Sometimes, Freeman said, it's not a perfect system.
"The hard-core evidence just isn't there. My sense is this [sentence] is just about right for this kind of case," Freeman said. "If I was the father, I could understand what he's saying, but we see a lot of cases when it's not our daughter, and we view it really differently."
Heard's attorney, Rick Trachy wouldn't comment on his client's remorse or whether the shooting was an accident. He called what happened a case of "a young man who did something stupid."
"There's no happy ending for anyone here," he said. "The court is right; this is a tragedy from beginning to end. There's no way to sugarcoat it."
Photos of Jennifer Scott with her three older sisters, friends and family flashed on a video monitor as her parents told Judge Marilyn Kaman about the teenager. Scott was not in school but a few credits shy of graduating and, not long after a move from Colorado to Minnesota, wanted to stay here because she loved her job. She was often bullied because of her weight, her mother said, which gave her the resolve to stand up for herself and anyone who was picked on.
It's likely, her mother said, why she walked away rather than submit to her robbers.
Scott's father, Alan Scott, shaking with emotion and Parkinson's disease, said even in death that his daughter remained generous by donating her organs.
Heard, whom he called a "coward," "monster" and an "animal," should never walk the streets again, Alan Scott said.
When given the opportunity to speak, Heard paused for several seconds, took deep breaths and apologized to the Scotts and his own family, which included a daughter.
"I'm not a monster or an animal, I just made a bad decision," he said while his family sobbed. "I think about it all the time. I dream about it. Some nights I can't sleep. It haunts me. It hurts me to know I followed through with something that I never meant to happen."
Heard's family declined to comment after the hearing.
Alan Scott said that Heard's apology, the first he had heard, was of little solace to him. Deb Scott said hearing the words "I'm sorry" made a difference.
The Scotts plan to head back to Colorado and return to attend all of Brasson's hearings and trials. It's the least they can do, they said, to honor their daughter.
"I always tried to tell Jennifer there were some people who you can't trust and who didn't want to be helped," Alan Scott said. "She always said, 'Daddy, everybody needs some help and I'm going to try.' "
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921