A man has been sentenced for murder in a 2018 Kennewick home invasion
Kennewick, WashingtonAn early morning home invasion robbery ended in the death of an 18-year-old more than five years ago.
After years of investigation and two trials, the man with the gun, Lawrence “Isaiah” Gross, 25, will go to prison for 20 years.
Gross was one of three men who planned to break into Hunter Black’s home on Yelm Street looking for money in October 2018, court documents said.
“This is about your worst nightmare,” Judge Sam Swanberg said. “Someone breaks into your home, threatens you with a gun, and then shoots you or someone you love in the chest.”
Swanberg handed down the sentence without Gross in the courtroom. Gross was returned to prison after trying to withdraw his guilty pleas to second-degree murder and second-degree assault.
He claimed that he had no role in the shooting and felt that Swanberg was unfair to him during the trial. Gross was nearing the end of his second trial when he admitted to being part of a robbery that turned into a murder.
Then, at Gross’ sentencing this month, when Swanberg ruled against him, Gross left the courtroom and was sent back to prison.
But the hearing continued. Deputy District Attorney Julie Long asked for a 20-year prison sentence.
She described the crime as a nightmare for Black’s then-girlfriend, Sinara Scott Surtor, and a friend who lived with him who was in the house at the time.
Scott Surtor learned she was pregnant shortly before the murder, and the shooting traumatized her because she was concerned about the effect the stress would have on her child.
“For a long time, I had difficulty even closing my eyes,” she told the hearing. “I was so afraid that something like this could happen again. There are still nights when I feel unsafe.
Gross’s attorney, James Curtis, asked for a 16-year prison sentence. He said his client was young at the time of the shooting and did not fully understand the consequences of his actions.
“I think sometimes when you’re young, you think you’re invincible,” he said. “When you’re young, you see what’s on videos and what’s on TV, and you think you can actually do it.”
Several family members of Gross said he was a good man at heart who ended up on the wrong path after losing his dream of playing basketball.
Two other people have been linked to the shooting. Wardle Eniko Braxton, 23, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He agreed to testify at Gross’s trial and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
The third man, Kavonte “KC” Conley, 24, remains at large. A nationwide arrest warrant has been issued for first-degree murder.
Theft, home invasion
Black’s sister, Dalene Larsen, described her brother as a kind soul, and while he sold marijuana, he was not a violent man.
“He would give the shirt off his back to anyone,” Larsen said. “He had ‘Love’ tattooed on his knuckles, and was about to get ‘Hope’ tattooed as well.”
She believed Gross went to the Yelm Street home prepared for violence, because he had a gun.
Black and Scott Surtor were asleep when Scott Surtor told police she was awakened by screaming and saw Black in the bedroom doorway yelling at the masked men.
The men were demanding money from Black, who was selling marijuana.
Black ended up being hit in the chest by a shotgun blast.
Scott Sortor told Swanberg that she was haunted by the image of her dead boyfriend. She has since moved across the country with their son, who asks for the father he will never know.
Black’s sister said it’s hard to return to the Tri-Cities now.
“Lawrence Gross should get the maximum sentence allowed for killing my brother,” she said. “The pain and trauma he caused continues to permeate our lives and continues until our death. I hope during this period of imprisonment he will grow and reflect on his many terrible life choices.
She also said she felt bad for Gross’ family.
Gross’s father, two of his sisters, and a family friend spoke on his behalf. They all sympathized with the loss and horror the Black family had to endure and apologized for it.
They said Gross was full of life and had a good heart when he was young.
They promised to stand behind Gross and help him become a better person when he is released from prison.
Gross still appears immature and has not yet accepted responsibility for the shooting, Swanberg said. He also needs to learn how to deal with his emotions better, the judge said.
He added: “I believe he will have the opportunity to grow and mature, and I hope he will develop into a human being who better understands the consequences of actions and the value of human life.”
(tags for translation) Kennewick