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Sept. 21, 2021

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Woman sentenced to more than 28 years for 2019 Aberdeen murder

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ABERDEEN — An Aberdeen woman was sentenced Friday to more than 28 years in state prison for the murder of the co-owner of a local motel.

Bria Jessie Danner, 37, received the sentence at hearing before Superior Court Judge David Mistachkin. She was sentenced for the January 2019 first-degree murder of Sung-Sil Kim at the GuestHouse Motel on West Heron Street in Aberdeen.

Grays Harbor County Prosecutor Norma Tillotson said the sentence was 344 months — 320 months is the top of the standard sentencing range, and 24 months were added for a deadly weapon enhancement.

Upon her release (Danner would be 65 years old if she serves the full term), she will be on three years of community custody, said Tillotson.

After Danner’s arrest for the stabbing death of Kim in the lobby of the Aberdeen motel Kim co-owned with her husband on Jan. 31, 2019, Danner underwent a competency evaluation, according to a prosecutor’s statement filed in Superior Court July 2.

In late March 2019, she was found incompetent; after about six months of competency restoration treatment, she was found competent to stand trial and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Her jury trial began in early June, with the state arguing Danner was not legally insane at the time of the murder. The prosecution brought forth witnesses including Kim’s husband, who discovered his wife shortly after the stabbing, and the jury was shown surveillance footage from the scene, including video of the murder itself inside the motel lobby.

The defense called three expert witnesses claiming Danner fit the definition of legally insane at the time of the murder. After several days of testimony, the jury reached a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder after just over an hour of deliberations.

“The jury’s rapid verdict shows that they did not believe the defendant’s mental health disorders played any substantive role in her crime,” read the prosecutor’s statement. “Rather, the defendant killed Sung-Sil Kim over a misunderstanding about the cost of a hotel room.”

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