Man who murdered Wapato middle school teacher sentenced to 15 ye - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Man who murdered Wapato middle school teacher sentenced to 15 years

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1-8-18 UPDATE:

WAPATO, WA - Marty Grismer was set to go on trial today for the 2013 murder of Wapato middle school art teacher Desiree Sunford.

Instead, he sat through victim impact statements before Judge Richard Bartheld setenced him to 15 years in prison.

From the bench, Bartheld said this case doesn't have a perfect solution, and no matter the sentence he imposed, it's not going to bring Desiree back.

Grismer took an Alford plea deal from Yakima County prosecutors for second degree murder last month. The plea allows Grismer to maintain his innocence, but admits that the state has enough evidence to possibly convict him.

Prosecutors said this murder case was not about what they believe, but what they could prove and that some of their best evidence would have been inadmissible. This includes testimony from Grismer's cellmate, who has a long criminal and gang history. He told investigators that Grismer confessed to killing Desiree to frame her husband Scott, who at the time of her murder was having an affair with another woman.

The prosecution was going to argue Grismer was obsessed with Scott's mistress and this was the true motive for killing Desiree.

The victim's mother, Connie Kast, stood just feet from Grismer when she gave her impact statement. She explained to Judge Bartheld that she didn't know the level of pain she has felt since her daughter died could exist. She testified that people have told her as time goes by you move on, but "everyone is wrong, because when you lose a child, time does not go on. It comes to a dead halt."

Kast's powerful statement caused many of the family members in the gallery to cry, and at the end she looked at Grismer one last time when she said, "Marty, you thought you silenced Desiree by destroying her physical body. Her memory goes on in the hearts of those who loved her, and neither you nor anyone else can destroy that. Your Honor, I can only speak to you about one thing at this point. Sentence this evil being to the harshest prison in our system. He deserves to be among other evil. I don't know how much pain the human heart can hold, but I have reached my maximum."

Judge Bartheld did give Grismer the opportunity to speak to the court, but he refused. After the 15-year prison sentence was handed down, Bartheld also ordered Grismer to pay more than $14,000 in restitution.

Bartheld says this ending was not what the court saw as a proper resolution, but was one that was negotiated between the prosecution and defense teams.



WAPATO, WA - A twist in the murder case of a Wapato Middle School art teacher and the suspect who police say is responsible for killing her.

Marty Grismer was set to go on trial in just a few weeks.

One of the most gut-wrenching things for the family of a victim of violent crime to do is having to sit through a trial, but Desiree Sunford's family will not have to.

Grismer was supposed to be going on trial for Sunford's murder on January 8th. But last week, he took a deal and pleaded guilty to second degree murder. Now January 8th with be his sentencing hearing.

In a case that unfolded as a twisted love triangle, Sunford was found shot to death in her Moxee home back in 2013. Prosecutors say Grismer killed her for a woman he was in love with who was dating Desiree's husband during their marriage.

Back in 2013 we talked with Wapato Superintendent Beck Imler about how difficult it was to lose the young art teacher.

"It's kind of like losing a child," Imler said. "I mean, these are my people and these are my staff members and I love them dearly. To lose one of them is very, very hard."

Police finally caught up with Grismer in 2015 after a tip from that woman who was dating Sunford's husband. She told deputies that Grismer was a close friend who would do almost anything for her, and since she was "the other woman," she wanted Desiree out of the way.

Grismer will learn his fate during sentencing on January 8th. According to Washington State sentencing guidelines, he could spend as many as 29 years in prison or serve as little as 14 years.