BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A man who stabbed nine people at a toddler's birthday party — killing the 3-year-old birthday girl and leaving several others gravely injured — will spend the rest of his life in prison for the crimes, a judge said on Thursday.
Fourth District Judge Nancy Baskin sentenced Timmy Kinner to two life terms in prison plus another 120 years on Thursday after a heart-wrenching hearing that included a grim description of the attack and a recording of a 911 call made by a terrified 8-year-old boy who had been stabbed. At one point, the slain toddler's mother threw a water bottle and tissues at Kinner, prompting court officers to briefly clear the courtroom.
The judge said she didn't think Kinner could ever safely be released into society, and said his sentence needed to be balanced against the lifetime of pain that his surviving victims are experiencing.
Timmy Kinner, 33, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and 11 other counts including aggravated assault, aggravated battery and use of a deadly weapon in March as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, who agreed not to seek the death penalty.
The mass stabbing on June 30, 2018, was among the most brutal in Boise's history, police said at the time. The victims were all refugees from Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia who fled conflict in their homelands and were resettled in Boise in hopes of a safer life. The attack left many with life-altering injuries.
Kinner, a homeless man originally from Tennessee with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, had been staying at the Boise apartment complex with a new acquaintance when he was asked to leave because of bad behavior. Police said he returned the next day and committed the mass stabbing, targeting a group that was outside the complex at the toddler's birthday party.
Little Ruya Kadir was turning 3 and her mother Bitifuu Kadir had just gone inside the complex to get the girl's birthday cake when the attack began. Prosecutor Dan Dinger said a young boy was the first to be stabbed, followed by his aunt who was holding her 2-year-old daughter in her arms. The aunt was stabbed more than a dozen times, and the toddler was stabbed in the chest.
The young boy, meanwhile, ran for help, warning others and calling 911.
Meanwhile, Kinner chased the boy's mother as she fled with her 6-year-old daughter. Dinger said Kinner managed to stab both the mother and daughter and slashed a 7-year-old child across the face. At one point Kinner entered an apartment, and a man was able to force him out of the building despite being stabbed multiple times.
Kinner next attacked a 12-year-old boy, and at some point, attacked Ruya.
“He picks her up, he stabs her in the heart, and he throws her to the ground,” Dinger said.
Kinner also stabbed Ruya's mother, Bitifuu Kadir, as well as the mother of the 7-year-old child who was slashed in the face. He eventually fled the scene. Police found the knife in a nearby canal.
After Dinger described the attack on Ruya, the child's mother screamed and threw a water bottle and tissue box at Kinner. She repeatedly called Ruya's name as court staffers tried to subdue her. Kinner wasn't hit by the thrown items.
Earlier, Kadir told the court that she wished Kinner had killed her instead, describing her daughter as “a very happy girl.”
She learned of the attack when a child ran into her apartment.
“My daughter was laying by the door. Her eyes were open, my daughter’s eyes were open,” she said. “That day I tried to close her eyes. I just didn’t want to see her open-eyed. I ran. I just couldn’t make it. I just could not rescue her.”
Kadir said she would regularly go to the cemetery in the morning to say hello to Ruya, and return at night to say goodnight. She vowed to outlive Kinner.
“I will go to where you are buried and I will spit on it,” she told him, “but that will not bring my daughter back.”
Kinner has a history of violent behavior, including a shooting and a slashing incident, Dinger said.
“He is a violent person, and he is not afraid to lash out at others,” Dinger told the judge.
Defense attorney David Smethers said Kinner was in the midst of a psychotic episode when he attacked the group. He called Julia Yackel, a capital mitigation specialist who researched Kinner's history and childhood, to describe his chaotic upbringing and troubled adulthood.
Yackel said Kinner and his younger siblings were found abandoned in a storage unit when Kinner was just 2, and that he acted as a caretaker to his siblings in early childhood. Both parents were addicted to drugs, she said. As an adult he was committed to a mental health facility for a time because police determined he was a danger to himself and others, Yackel said, but was released without being psychiatric medication.
“He was really homeless and flying solo with a major mental illness,” Yackel said.
Kinner apologized for the pain he caused, and said he hopes the victims understand that he was having a mental breakdown and didn't intend to attack anyone.
“I didn’t have any plans to throw my life away and I definitely didn’t have any plans to hurt these people,” Kinner said. “I hate that I took their baby away from them.”