Neighbor gets 100 days in fatal fight over noise
All Michael Gillum wanted to do was make sure his daughter got a good night's sleep before school, his family says, but when he confronted his neighbor over TV noise at 2:30 a.m. and used a racial epithet, it cost him his life.
Yesterday, Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto sentenced Kendall Edmonds, 24, to 100 days in prison and 10 years of probation for recklessly causing Gillum's death -- far less than the 20-year imprisonment sought by the prosecution.
Sakamoto noted that Gillum had initiated "this ugly confrontation" and provoked Edmonds, who is black, with "incendiary racial epithets." The judge also said Edmonds could not have anticipated that his punch would be "a death blow."
Gillum, 46, pounded on the wall of Edmonds' apartment in Pearl City at about 2:30 a.m. Aug. 9, 2004, because of television and other noises. He then confronted him in the hallway, throwing the first punch before Edmonds landed what proved to be the fatal blow, according to Deputy Public Defender William Bento.
Edmonds then straddled Gillum on the floor and punched him several more times. The medical examiner concluded that Gillum died as a result of a severed artery from the violent whipping of his neck, likely caused by the first hit, which knocked Gillum against the wall.
His daughter heard the ruckus outside their apartment and called 911. Yesterday she appeared in court, sobbing.
"It hurts my heart to wake up and know that my dad will never come back and that I don't have a father," the 15-year-old girl told Edmonds through her tears. "I forgive you for what you did, although I was wronged."
"I'll always cherish all the memories I had with my dad," she added. "I love him and I miss him so much." Her family asked that her name be withheld for privacy.
Edmonds, who is originally from Alabama, was a petty officer at Pearl Harbor at the time, and has since been honorably discharged. He was first charged with second-degree murder, but was later allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter because the death did not appear to be intentional.
Edmonds, who has no prior record, told the court he deeply regrets what happened.
"I can't sleep sometimes. I have the shakes. I take full responsibility for what happened," Edmonds said. "I am sorry for the Gillum family."
Gillum's sister, Patrice Collins, lashed out at Edmonds for destroying her family, saying he has been free on bail while "Michael is dead, and his family and daughter and all of his friends are in excruciating pain."
She added that the First Amendment to the Constitution protects free speech. "You cannot kill someone because they say something that makes you mad," she said.
"Michael was the proudest single father I've ever seen," Collins told the court. "He never left his daughter's side. His main priority in life was to raise and protect his daughter. ... All Michael wanted was for his daughter to be able to get some sleep so she could get up and go to school."