Kimani Eli Randolph will serve 15 years to life in state prison for bowling over and killing an elderly shopper during a 2017 Citrus Heights drugstore robbery after attorneys reached a last-minute deal Monday as jurors waited to hear the case.
Trial was set to begin Monday morning in Sacramento Superior Court when defense attorney Pamela Dominisse floated the offer: Randolph, 22, would plead no contest to second-degree murder in the death of 87-year-old Marilyn Stribley, struck down in the doorway of a Rite Aid store, along with counts of robbery and burglary in exchange for an indeterminate term that means Randolph would not be eligible for parole until he reaches 37.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 5 before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Emily Vasquez.
“It wasn’t a planned event,” prosecuting Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Casey Newton said of the plea agreement.
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So quickly did events transpire Monday morning that Stribley’s family was taken by surprise that the case was not going to trial after all.
“We weren’t expecting this today,” family spokeswoman Sheryl Lynn Koltvet told Vasquez after attorneys announced the deal, describing family members as “shocked and torn” by the agreement before ultimately making peace with it.
“We’ve been anticipating this process for more than a year. We feel like the rug has been pulled out from us – but we accept it,” Koltvet said.
Randolph was the leader of a busy three-man robbery crew Nov. 27, 2017. In the hours before the Rite Aid heist that claimed Stribley’s life, the trio knocked over a Walgreens pharmacy on El Camino Avenue in Sacramento.
They would use the same tactic at Rite Aid, a “jump robbery,” prosecutor Newton said. Randolph led the way, the three bounding over the pharmacist’s counter to raid the cache of pills in back. Randolph and team made off with some $23,000 in pills. His crew headed for a back exit. Randolph ran for the front door.
Stribley, a regular and popular customer at the Rite Aid drugstore on Old Auburn Road in Citrus Heights, was on the other side.
Surveillance footage captured what happened next.
“He essentially ran over her trying to escape with zero concern for her safety,” Newton told Vasquez at the morning hearing as Stribley’s family and friends sat stoically in the gallery. “He saw her in the doorway and ran into – ran through her.”
Stribley was knocked backward, her head hitting the floor. Her heart stopped at the scene before first responders revived her for the trip to nearby Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, Newton said. Stribley’s heart stopped again at Mercy before she was revived a second time. She never regained consciousness and died at the hospital days later, on Dec. 2, 2017.
Randolph was soon captured in Las Vegas and brought back to Sacramento.
On Monday, Randolph sat in street clothes and appeared to show little emotion as Vasquez, in slow, deliberate tones, outlined the gravity of the sentence he will face.
“You are being sentenced to 15 years to life. You will not be eligible for probation,” Vasquez said.
Behind him, Randolph’s mother hung her head, covered her face in her hands and began to sob as his sister comforted her.
Monday’s hearing brings another chapter of the story to a close. A second member of Randolph’s crew, Jakob Johns, is in prison after committing a near-identical heist in Merced County. The third man, remains unknown and at large.
“For now,” Newton said after the hearing. “But we’re working on it.”