According to court documents Sonny Kim would fatally shoot his twenty three year old sister Ashley Kim in Georgia. Kim would also attempt to murder his stepfather however the magazine was empty
Sonny Kim would later tell authorities his plan was to kill his sister, mother and stepfather
Sonny Kim would be arrested, convicted and would be sentenced to life in prison with a possibility of parole after thirty years
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James Brazzell said Sonny Kim was not his normal self the night he shot his sister eight times and killed her in their Martinez home just six days before Christmas in 2016.
“His eyes were black. He was unfocused. He was not there,” said Brazzell, Kim’s stepfather. “His expression, his voice – everything about him was not Sonny. It was not the Sonny we all know.”
Kim, 19, pleaded guilty by reason of mental illness to felony murder, malice murder, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and aggravated assault on Friday. Judge James Blanchard sentenced him to life in prison on the murder counts with a possibility of parole, plus 20 years for the possession charges and five years for the assault. He will be eligible for parole in 30 years
Kim was 16 when he killed his 23-year-old sister, Ashley Kim, just as Brazzell and Kim’s mother were getting into bed. Kim tried to shoot Brazzell when he entered the living room but could not load the magazine into the gun. Kim later told investigators he planned to kill his mother, stepfather and sister and commit suicide.
Family members including Kim’s mother, Nicci Brazzell, strongly opposed statements from Assistant District Attorney Ricky Coates that Kim killed his sister out of jealousy. She graduated from Evans High School and was attending college in Colorado, and she was home for Christmas break when she was killed.
Kim was mostly home-schooled and completed high school at age 15 and was attending Georgia Military College, according to Augusta Chronicle archives. While his sister was outgoing, Kim was more reserved and did not enjoy attention.
“Sonny loved his sister more than he loved anybody,” his stepfather said. “He loved his mother and loved myself, but his sister Ashley was his favorite person.”
Nicci Brazzell left the courtroom several times, and family members consoled her as she watched her son stand before the judge. She said that on the night of the murder, she believes she was looking at something “dark and evil” in her son that she has never seen before or since.
“I would love to take my son home now,” Brazzell said through tears. “I would just love to give him a hug and a kiss because I know that he’s not a murderer.
Dr. Allison Paganelli, a forensic psychologist who has been working with Kim since April 2017, said that after interviews with Kim and his mother, multiple tests and reviewing records, there are still many unanswered questions, including why he would kill his sister.
“While Sonny was able to remember these events, he also described that it was like watching himself or another person that looked like him doing those things,” she said.
After watching his interview with investigators, which included multiple instances of Kim talking to himself and to unseen people, Kim told Paganelli that it was like looking into a parallel dimension.
Paganelli said that from her experience with Kim, he meets the criteria for an autism spectrum disorder that usually begins to exhibit symptoms in early childhood. A person with the disorder has problems socializing with others and expressing emotions.
Kim also has a history of being exposed to traumatic events because of his biological father, including being neglected. Because of the psychosis episodes in the interrogation video and Kim’s young age, Paganelli believes his psychological issues will grow into something bigger. Kim was also conducting self-harm by banging his head against the wall and window, biting his arm and breaking his tooth at the Regional Youth Detention Center.
Because of Kim’s guilty plea by reason of mental illness, he will receive psychiatric care while serving his sentence.