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There was no reason to delay Timothy Kemp's sentencing after he was convicted of first-degree murder on May 1. On that point, both the prosecution and defense agreed, since judges in Colorado have no discretion when sentencing first-degree-murder cases. Life without parole is the only option.

Kemp was eighteen when he was arrested for killing 26-year-old Ronnelle Murrell on a Saturday night in June 2005 ("The Gang's All Here," September 22, 2005). Kemp rolled with Bloods and was sporting a hat branded with "CK," or Crip Killer, when his path crossed with Murrell's on the corner of East Colfax Avenue and Logan Street. Murrell was four inches taller and a hundred pounds heavier than Kemp -- and his criminal record was much longer. But when Kemp said he saw Murrell reach for a gun, he pulled his .22 and fired two rounds, one of which hit Murrell in the back and traveled deep enough into his body to end his life shortly thereafter.

Both the prosecution and the defense had subpoenaed the Westword reporter who'd interviewed Kemp in jail after he was charged with murder; Westword successfully fought the request, and the reporter did not have to testify -- although he could not attend the trial, either.

Kemp's attorney didn't return phone calls seeking comment, and neither Kemp's girlfriend nor his family could be reached. But Murrell's mother, Damita, says she feels bad for Kemp's family, and she hugged Kemp's mother after the trial.

"I didn't want to take his life in exchange for Ronelle's. I wanted him to have some consequences, but life, my God. I cried harder than they did. He's just a baby; he made a mistake," she says. "And the bad thing is it was all about that hat. Both those boys have lost their life because of that hat."

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Luke Turf