SPOKANE — Fighting back tears, Michael Materne’s loved ones told a judge Thursday a piece of them has been missing since the 36-year-old was shot and killed last summer in northwest Spokane.
“A part of me died that day,” said Rodney Materne, Michael Materne’s brother.
“It was a big piece of our family that was taken on July 3,” said Riley Materne, the victim’s daughter. “A piece that we will never get back.”
Alesha Ford, 31, and Stacy Gerber, 32, were sentenced Thursday for their roles in the shooting.
Ford, who shot Michael Materne, pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree manslaughter. Spokane County Superior Court Judge Rachelle Anderson sentenced her to 10 years in prison.
Gerber, Michael Materne’s ex-girlfriend, pleaded guilty last week to second-degree assault. Anderson sentenced her to nine months in jail, and she was given credit for time served. Gerber, who has been out of custody, walked out of the Spokane County Courthouse a free woman.
The sentencing lengths were recommended by the prosecution and defense.
“It’s sickening that Stacy gets to walk out of here today,” Rodney Materne said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
During his victim impact statement to the court, Rodney Materne looked over to Gerber and said he will never forgive her.
“I think that these two women set out with a plan and I think they achieved their plan,” he said.
According to court documents, Ford told her father she shot at Materne three times because she believed he was shooting at her.
A witness told police she drove Ford, Gerber and two children on July 3 to the alley behind Michael Materne’s house, 5324 N. Belt St. Michael Materne approached the vehicle, a 2015 GMC Yukon, and Gerber got out of the car. The two then argued about a bike.
The driver said Gerber got back into the Yukon and she fought with Michael Materne over a handgun through the window. The witness told police she did not know who had the gun first, but Michael Materne’s cousin said in court records that Gerber displayed a handgun from her passenger seat.
During the struggle for the gun, the pistol fired, sending a round into the ceiling of the car.
Michael Materne’s cousin said Michael Materne walked back toward the garage and the vehicle pulled away. The cousin told police he then heard more gunshots and saw Michael Materne fall to the ground with an apparent gunshot wound.
The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office said Michael Materne died from a gunshot wound “of the left upper extremity and torso.”
Police found a .45 caliber bullet in the alleyway, two spent 9 mm shell casings at the end of the alley and a live .40 caliber round on the ground a few feet from Michael Materne’s garage.
Earlier on the day of the shooting, Michael Materne retrieved his property at Gerber’s Spokane Valley home, according to another witness. Gerber was not home at the time, but her children and some of her children’s friends were there.
After Michael Materne grabbed his items, the witness told police Michael Materne received a photo, via text message, from Gerber of a .40 caliber handgun resting in Gerber’s lap. The see-through magazine on the gun matched the magazine on the gun Materne and Gerber struggled over outside the Belt Street home, documents say.
On Thursday, Ford initially told the court she was not ready to plead guilty to the manslaughter charge. After a brief recess and consultation with her attorney, Brooke Hagara, Ford entered a guilty plea.
Hagara said the evidence in the case was “primarily circumstantial,” and that Ford was not certain the bullet that killed Michael Materne came from her gun, resulting in Ford’s hesitation to plead guilty.
Sharon Hedlund, Spokane County deputy prosecutor, said the case was “extremely suggestive of a first-degree manslaughter.” Ford and Gerber initially faced second-degree murder charges.
Hedlund and Gerber’s attorney, Derek Reid, said Gerber did not intend to hurt Michael Materne.
Ford, who wore red and white-striped jail clothing, apologized for Michael Materne’s death.
“I can’t make it better, obviously,” she said.
Riley Materne said the family will never be whole again, and she and her siblings will miss many “firsts” with their father.
“We can no longer make memories with our father,” she said.
Rodney Materne said he has not been the same since his brother’s death and not sure when he will be.
“It’s just such a sad day for me and my entire family,” he said. “There’s no sentence that would ever be enough, in my opinion, not even death. It will never bring my brother back.”
Gerber, through tears, also apologized to the Materne family.
“I know none of this should have happened,” she said.
Anderson said she appreciated Gerber’s comments but was unsure whether they were sincere.
Ford will serve three years of community custody, also called probation, when she is released from prison. Anderson ordered Gerber to serve one year of probation.
“Something is lost in that family now that will never be replaced,” Anderson said.