Father gets 45 years for killing his daughter
HILO » Big island resident Douglas Fathke, 47, was sentenced to 45 years in prison yesterday for the shooting death of his 8-year-old daughter and related crimes.
Fathke has told authorities he doesn't remember the 2003 shooting and doesn't know why he did it.
Fathke shot his daughter with a rifle as she lay on a bed on Easter morning, 2003. It came after conduct by Fathke, including strange religious statements, anger at his daughter Kelsie, and negative reaction to a phone call from his ex-wife.
He also choked a 16-year-old boy escaping from the bed-and-breakfast that Fathke ran in remote Naalehu, at the southern end of the Big Island.
Circuit Judge Glenn Hara told Fathke yesterday he didn't have a "glimmer" why Fathke killed Kelsie.
"I cannot understand why you are standing before me today being sentenced for your daughter's death," Hara said.
That lack of any reason indicates that Fathke is "unpredictable and dangerous," Hara said. The circumstances call for the full measure of punishment, he said.
Hara ordered Fathke to serve sentences for three offenses back to back.
The sentences are 20 years for the manslaughter of his daughter, followed by 20 years for a terroristic attack on the 16-year-old boy, followed by five years for using a gun in the killing.
All of the sentences are maximums. The Hawaii Paroling Authority sets minimums.
In a statement to the court, Fathke himself recognized lenience in his case is unlikely.
"I know there's no hope. I'll never get myself out," he said.
Fathke said he thinks about his daughter's death every day and cries every night. "My nights are filled with nightmares," he said.
Kelsie's mother, Memarie Dhillon, who was divorced from Fathke by the time of the killing, said her life has been on hold and she was relieved that the case is over so she can get on with life.
She will return to Tacoma, Wash., where she works in a grocery store and raises her 4-year-old son.
Dhillon told the court last month that Fathke had used many illegal drugs and behaved erratically only when he was using drugs.
Defense attorney Brian De Lima said police determined Fathke was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the killing. Fathke is being medicated for mental illness, but the exact nature is in dispute, he said previously.