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News / Northwest

Man sentenced to life in prison for 1994 murder could be released in 2 1/2 years after second resentencing

By Garrett Cabeza, The Spokesman-Review
Published: April 15, 2024, 8:24am

SPOKANE — A 47-year-old man who has been incarcerated his entire adult life for the killing of 22-year-old Felicia Reese could be released in two-and-a-half years after a judge’s ruling last week.

Reese was six months away from her wedding when she was kidnapped Dec. 27, 1994, from the parking lot of the Sheraton-Spokane Hotel where she was attending a Christian conference, according to previous reporting from The Spokesman-Review. Boot and his 16-year-old cousin, Jerry Boot, drove her to Minnehaha Park, where she was shot three times in the face.

Boot originally was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder, but the U.S. Supreme Court determined in 2012 that life sentences for minors were cruel and unusual.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Raymond Clary resentenced Boot in 2017 to 50 years to life, but an appeals court ruled that new sentence was just a “de facto life sentence,” ordering a second resentencing.

Clary ultimately imposed on Tuesday a 32-years-to-life sentence. Boot’s attorney, Jeffry Finer, said his client has served 29 1/2 years, making him eligible for parole in two and a half years.

Clary factored Boot’s youth, rehabilitative progress, the “horrific murder of Reese” and the crime spree leading up to the murder in his sentence, according to court documents.

Boot submitted “extensive mitigating and rehabilitative evidence,” including two defense experts who believe Boot was an immature youth and has made significant rehabilitative progress in prison, court records show.

“His reported progress while incarcerated tends to show that he is capable of change,” Clary wrote.

Clary did not discount the seriousness of Boot’s crimes in his ruling.

“Mr. Boot’s actions extinguished Ms. Reese’s life, perpetuating generational harm upon her family,” Clary wrote. “She will never be married; she will never have a child, and her mother will never have a grandchild. Her mother endures this pain every day.”

Boot admitted to participating in the killing when he took the stand in his 1996 trial. He claimed his cousin was the one who killed Reese.

Finer said Boot maintains he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger.

Finer asked for 30 years to life while Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Tom Treppiedi asked for 40.

Treppiedi declined to comment Friday, citing the potential for appeals and further litigation.

Finer said Boot has changed, matured and rehabilitated himself. He’s dependable, thoughtful and a good citizen, he added.

Finer said Boot serves on several inmate groups designed to help reduce prison violence and to help inmates. He has “tremendous support” from prison staff, he said.

“He has made, for the last many years, a powerful effort to bring his conduct and his work aligned with helping people,” Finer said.

Finer said many of Boot’s supporters, who attended Tuesday’s sentencing via Zoom, in Western Washington expressed their willingness to help Boot when he’s released. Finer said he’s confident a parole commission will find Boot ready to be released when he’s eligible.

Boot, lawyers and supporters on both sides addressed Clary Jan. 3. Boot was scheduled to be sentenced that day, but Clary took those arguments under advisement before issuing the sentence last week.

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Mike Fredericks, a friend of Reese’s family, read a statement in January on behalf of Reese’s mother, Maggie Bucher. Bucher said Boot’s resentencings are an “injustice to the memory of my only child.”

“I have no interest in trying to understand what is deemed fair punishment for taking someone’s life,” Bucher wrote, pleading for the maximum sentence the judge would be able to give. “He took my baby from me… My soul aches every single day since my beloved daughter was thoughtlessly murdered.”

Boot described his 17-year-old self as a “monster” and apologized to Reese’s family.