Olathe After emotional testimony in a courtroom packed with the family and friends of his victim, a suburban Kansas City man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for the 2007 kidnapping, rape and murder of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith.
Edwin R. Hall, 27, of Olathe, pleaded guilty in July to capital murder to avoid the death penalty.
Hall spoke briefly after Johnson County District Judge Peter V. Ruddick sentenced him to life without parole and about 47 concurrent years for aggravated kidnapping, rape and aggravated sodomy.
"I can't find the right words to say today," Hall said through tears. "I am so sorry for what I have done. That's it. That's all I can say."
Smith was abducted in June 2007 from the parking lot of a Target store in Overland Park. Her body was found four days later about 15 miles away in a Missouri park.
Most of the dozens of people in the courtroom were wearing light blue T-shirts with "Kelsey's Army" printed in white on the front. Her three sisters and younger brother and her parents all gave emotional testimonials before the sentencing. They also showed a video of Kelsey from when she was a baby until her high school graduation the month before she was killed.
"Hall should not be able to see his child again since we cannot see ours," Kelsey Smith's mother, Missey Smith, said in court. "But if there were true justice we would be able to bring Kelsey home."
Before the sentencing, defense attorney Paul Cramm told the judge about Hall's very difficult childhood and showed him a drawing Hall had done when he was a child. Cramm said the drawing was two stick figures, one of Hall and one of an uncle who abused him.
"My client had been sexually abused before the age of 6 more times than you can count on your hands. These were his blood relatives. It happened over and over again," he said.
"There is no excuse for what happened to Kelsey Smith," Cramm said. "But it is an explanation for how his life spun so terribly out of control on June 2, 2007."