A Centralia man has been sentenced to seven years and six months in prison for killing a Yelm man after a July 3 fireworks show in Lacey.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge John Skinder sentenced Kinyoce Zavion Chatman, 20, on Monday for second-degree manslaughter while armed with a firearm and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office amended their charges to facilitate a plea deal. Chatman was initially charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing Jordan Pilbro, 43, at Rainier Vista Park before midnight.
Pilbro’s death traumatized members of his family who shared statements with the court prior to Chatman’s sentencing. The shooting also left a tragic mark on a community fireworks celebration that returned to the park after a two-year absence caused by the pandemic.
Chatman entered an Alford plea on Nov. 22, meaning he pleaded guilty to avoid a trial but still asserted his innocence. He issued a statement to the court before it accepted his guilty plea.
“I maintain that I did not act with criminal negligence, but acted completely in defense of myself and others,” Chatman said. “I recognize there is a substantial likelihood that I could be convicted as originally charged if this case went to trial. I would like to avoid that risk and resolve this case.”
The Olympian previously reported on a probable cause statement that detailed the initial investigation into the incident from the perspective of law enforcement.
The statement described a verbal confrontation between a group that included Chatman and some members of the Pilbro family. One witness belonging to Chatman’s group reportedly told police the conversation ‘became racial’ and “tempers grew.”
The confrontation then escalated into a physical altercation. At one point, Chatman shot Pilbro, allegedly to defend another person, and fled the scene, according to the statement. Lacey police later arrested Chatman at his home in Centralia.
At the time, Chatman was 19 and barred from owning a firearm. In 2020, he was convicted for second-degree robbery and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm while a juvenile. That case played out in King County Superior Court.
In statements to the court, several members of Pilbro’s family contested Chatman’s version of events and defended Jordan Pilbro’s character.
Lila Pilbro said her husband’s death detrimentally affected her well-being and left her family without its primary wage earner.
“My entire world has been destroyed by the murder of my husband Jordan,” Lila Pilbro said. “There is nothing in my life untouched by the choice Mr. Chatman made. I will spend the rest of my life suffering a cruel punishment. I did not consent to it and did nothing deserving of it.”
Though she was unsure why Chatman shot her husband, Lila Pilbro said she believed her husband acted to defend his brother who was injured in the altercation. She also pushed back against accusations her husband was racist.
“If anyone had done even one minute of follow-up to see if that claim was factual, they would have discovered it was a false agenda pushed by Mr. Chatman to make himself appear the victim,” Lila Pilbro said.
Jordan Pilbro’s younger brother, Mason Pilbro told the court he was the one his brother tried to protect. He said Chatman’s group assaulted him with brass knuckles and a gun.
“Since that night, I have trouble sleeping and have yet to go a night without reliving the last breath I saw my brother Jordan take,” Mason Pilbro said. “I find myself lost without his guidance.”
Mason Pilbro said he worked for his brother, who was a small business owner. He added Jordan Pilbro was a selfless individual who worked long hours to support his family.
“He was the most devoted man to his family that I’ve ever met, refusing to fail to provide for his wife and daughter and helping me provide for my family simultaneously,” Mason Pilbro said.
Kimberly Pilbro, Jordan Pilbro’s daughter, described him as a patriarch who cared for family and friends no matter who they liked, who they identified as or their race.
“Kinyoce murdered a man who would have risked his own life to save him,” Kimberly Pilbro said. “My father protected and helped everyone! My father would have given Kinyoce a job… Kinyoce murdered a father, a grandfather, son, brother and husband.”