KINGMAN – Twice convicted killer Darrell Ketchner declined comment, but a local judge had plenty to say at the September 14 sentencing hearing for the 64-year-old Kingman man he called a “rotten human being”.
Mohave County Superior Court Judge Rick Williams minced no words in telling Ketchner his trial testimony was bogus and didn’t align with case facts and irrefutable evidence of his guilt in the brutal stabbing death of 18-year-old Ariel Allison more than 13 years ago.
Ketchner was first convicted at trial in March, 2013 of killing Ariel and attempting to murder her mother Jennifer Allison, Ketchner’s off-and-on-again girlfriend at the time and mother of three of their children, and a number of other charges years ago. An appellate court, however, overturned Ketchner’s conviction and death sentence for the burglary and murder portion of the case, which was retried last month.
A second jury again convicted Ketchner of first-degree murder and burglary charges with Judge Williams noting that Ariel was an innocent teenager, an “angel” loved by all, who was viciously slaughtered.
“She was a wonderful young person with her whole life ahead of her and this senseless act just snuffed her out,” Williams said. “There’s absolutely no justification, no excuse.”
Judge Williams rejected theories advanced by the defense team at trial that Ketchner was under emotional duress and the influence of methamphetamine that clouded his thought process when he stabbed Ariel multiple times and slashed her mother and shot her in the head. Williams said evidence and testimony indicated Ketchner was more calm, calculated and methodical than he was an out-of-control person acting on impulse.
Most of all, Williams took issue with Ketchner, who testified for hours at trial, telling jurors he feared for his life when he blindly stabbed at a person he later learned was Ariel.
“The self-defense claim was completely unpersuasive in light of the irrefutable evidence of guilt,” Williams said. The judge said it was preposterous for Ketchner to tell the jury that he blamed Jennifer Allison for attacking him, forcing him to horrific violence.
“I just couldn’t believe my ears,” Williams said. “I thought to myself what a rotten thing to say by just an absolutely rotten human being and it’s time to send Mr. Ketchner back to his cage.”
Jennifer Allison also pleaded with the court to send Ketchner back to his “concrete coffin to die”.
Judge Williams obliged by imposing a natural life prison term for Ariel’s murder, plus 21 years more for the mostly insignificant burglary conviction. Ketchner is currently serving a prison term that wouldn’t let him out until 2054 due to convictions that stuck in the first trial.
Another appeal is automatic under Arizona law.
Judge Williams further expressed disgust that long tenured law enforcement and emergency public safety officials choked up on the witness stand long after the July 4, 2009 bloodshed, but that Ketchner kept it together when recounting events from the witness stand.
“The Court finds it relatively significant that this case involves a defendant where there appears to be a complete absence of genuine remorse,” Williams said.