This news story was updated at 4:58 p.m.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – A judge rejected Ronald A. Brady’s lawyer’s idea of the Onalaska man remaining free on a bond while his appeal is pending for fatally shooting a suspected burglar and sentenced Brady this morning to just over five years in prison.
Brady, 60, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in Lewis County Superior Court almost two weeks ago.
At his sentencing today, Deputy Prosecutor Shane O’Rourke asked the judge to impose 63 months, the top of the standard sentencing range combined with three mandatory years because a firearm was used.
Defense attorney Don Blair asked the judge to consider just six months in the county jail.
Judge Nelson Hunt was brief.
The sentence will be 63 months, Hunt said.
“While it’s true a burglary may have been about to be committed, the defendant had many opportunities to do just about anything to avoid this deadly confrontation,” Hunt said. “And in fact, the defendant did what he stated he was going to do.”
Fifty-six-year-old Thomas McKenzie of Morton died the night of April 19, 2010 outside the house Brady owns on the the 2100 block of state Route 508. Brady admitted firing five or six shots with a .22 caliber rifle, three of them toward Thomas McKenzie.
A dozen friends and acquaintances of Brady’s sat behind him this morning in the courtroom in Chehalis. About twice that many took up seats elsewhere in the audience.
Deputy Prosecutor O’Rourke asked the judge to impose the maximum time allowed, 27 months from the top of the standard sentencing range, along with the 36 mandatory months because a gun was used.
“There’s no dispute the jury found this was an intentional act,” O’Rourke told the judge.
The defendant made a decision to go to the property “where he didn’t even live, laying in complete wait in the darkness,” he said.
Brady went outside and fired his gun and kept shooting even after Tom McKenzie began to run, O’Rourke said.
“He admitted eventually, I did shoot him, and hit him,” he said. “He caused this by going offensively outside the garage.”
Lastly, O’Rourke said, there is a victim, a person slain by the defendant on the night in question; a person who did not need to die.
Centralia defense attorney Blair reminded the judge that although a pretrial ruling prevented him from calling the McKenzie’s burglars during the trial, the prosecutor did so during his closing, and so Blair was finally able to do that too.
“I think what’s getting glossed over is what really was going on that night,” Blair told the judge. “The McKenzies were there to burglarize the defendant’s house.”
Brady had been stolen from as many as seven times in the past, he said. The McKenzies showed up on his property uninvited, he said.
Blair described his client as a law-abiding citizen who has done nothing but be cooperative throughout the case.
“If the McKenzies had lived their lives like Ron had lived his, we wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
Blair agreed his client waited inside his own house, and probably was angry, feeling violated.
“And if somebody showed up at my house in the middle of the night, I’d probably start shooting too,” Blair said.
He asked the court to approve a mitigated sentence downward to six months.
About 30 minutes was given to several members of Thomas McKenzie’s family to address the judge before sentencing.
Robert McKenzie, of Morton, spoke briefly.
“My name is Robert McKenzie. Tom is my son,” he said.
Robert McKenzie pointed out Brady acknowledged he’d do the same thing again, and wasn’t sorry for what he did. He’s cold-blooded, the father said.
“This guy, he’s gonna kill again. He says he’s gonna kill again,” he said. “We gotta put him away judge.”
Colleen Wolczak directed many of her words about her brother directly to Brady. She asked him how he could kill and have no remorse.
“You say you’re not sorry my brother is dead,” Wolczak said. “What kind of man is that?”
The Salem, Ore. woman said maybe her brother should not have been at Brady’s property, but he didn’t deserve to die for a burglary. She pointed to her parents in the first row.
“They lost their first-born child, because you were peeved,” she said. “Well, a lot of us get peeved, Mr. Brady, but we don’t kill.”
Patrick McKenzie said he followed the trial regarding his brother in the news from his home in Nevada.
In the civilized world, people don’t wait in a garage and then take the life of someone they judge to be of little virtue, Patrick McKenzie said.
The intruders onto the property could have been a Girl Scout selling cookies, or a plumber showing up on the job, he said.
“Which I am. And I’ve done that, shown up after dark. But I guess I wouldn’t be here if I lived in Lewis County, or next door to Mr. Brady,” he said.
“Our family is hurt, Mr. Brady,” Patrick McKenzie said. “Hurting in ways that cannot be imagined or fathomed by someone who hasn’t lived through it.”
Another brother, John McKenzie of Morton, said he felt the prosecutors did “a real good job” of showing premeditation and intent.
He recounted his understanding of the testimony he heard.
Brady stepped outside his garage with one thing on his mind, and that one thing was to shoot, he said.
“How can he say he feared for his life? My brother was running away from him, running for his life,” John McKenzie said.
He called the defendant an angry man with no respect for human life who took the law into his own hands.
“He showed no mercy, no compassion at all for my brother,” he said. “Tom’s death was not an accident.”
Brady chose, on his attorney’s advice, not to make a statement to the judge.
After Judge Hunt imposed the sentence, and and left the bench, some of Brady’s supporters said they would have liked to speak for their friend.
Terry Schrader, of Centralia, called the case chilling for property owners who want to defend themselves.
Rodger Manecke, of Cinebar, said he was unhappy with verdict, thinking it will make property owners leery and thieves bold.
“I think it send out a big message, this kind of verdict, making people afraid to protect what’s theirs,” Manecke said.
Marvin Woods came from his home in Lacey to be there today.
Brady has been his bridge partner for some 10 years, he said. He even played cards with Brady at the Unity Church in Centralia earlier in the day of the shooting.
I only know Brady is an exceedingly honest man, Woods said.
Woods, who said he had 30 years in the military, said he didn’t like the fact that Brady ended up killing the guy.
“I don’t know what in the world I’d do under those same circumstances,” he said.
The Onalaska man was taken handcuffed out of the courtroom down to the Lewis County Jail.
Brady argued self defense in his trial. He avoided a first-degree murder conviction, and also a conviction of first-degree assault for allegedly firing at Thomas McKenzie’s wife Joanna McKenzie.
A jury of six men and six women took less than three hours on June 24 to find him guilty of second-degree manslaughter.
Until today, the retired bachelor had been free on a $50,000 unsecured appearance bond.
Read “Breaking news: Onalaska murder trial: Guilty of second-degree manslaughter” from Friday June 24, 2011, here