'A family that has been shattered' – Bremerton teen gets 14-year sentence in murder case

PORT ORCHARD – Lola Luna, 18, found guilty by a jury in December of the murder of 16-year-old Syanna Puryear-Tucker, was sentenced on Monday to 14 years in prison.

The sentence, handed down by Kitsap County Superior Court Judge William Houser, came on the second anniversary of the fight in the front yard of Luna’s home in Bremerton that led to Puryear-Tucker’s death. Luna, 16 at the time, stabbed the other girl repeatedly, and Puryear-Tucker later died from her wounds. Luna said she had been defending herself but was charged for Puryear-Tucker's murder and tried as an adult.

Luna will serve the first part of her sentence under custody of the state's Department of Children, Youth and Families and at age 25 would then be transferred to the state's Department of Corrections.

Prior to sentencing, Puryear-Tucker’s mother, Sheryl Turner, and other family members told Houser of the pain that the girl’s death has caused their family and asked for the maximum sentence for Luna.

“We have a family that has been shattered since Syanna has been taken from us,” Turner said. “No laughter, no more singing, no more dancing, no more sending silly videos to us and most of all, no more posting on all my pages, ‘I’m mom’s favorite child.’ Lola took that away. She has left us with so much pain and sorrow and emptiness.”

She added: "I do ask this, mother to mother, that one day Lola will sit down with me, just so I can ask this one question: why?"

From December:Lola Luna guilty of murder in stabbing death of Syanna Puryear-Tucker

The fight between the two girls occurred on Jan. 30, 2021. Jurors rejected a self-defense argument from Luna and found her guilty of second-degree murder in December last year.

Testimony found the conflict between the two girls started when Luna beat up another girl at the Kitsap Mall. Puryear-Tucker had that girl contact Luna and challenge her to another fight so that Puryear-Tucker could instead go to Luna’s house to fight. Luna expected the other girl to show up for another fight but instead was confronted by Puryear-Tucker. In the fight, the two girls exchanged blows, with Puryear-Tucker punching and Luna stabbing with a knife.

Luna said on Monday that she hoped that her family and Puryear-Tucker’s family “can come to peace knowing that this whole situation is done, and we can all move on.”

She added: “My intentions for what happened that day were not what the outcome was. I knew the consequences of having that knife, and I knew the consequences of using it, but I didn’t know that what happened was going to happen. She didn’t look to me that what I was doing was really harming her.”

Read more:Teen says she was fearful, 'slashing out' with knife in fight

Luna's attorney, John Kannin, argued for a 3 ½-year sentence, emphasizing to Houser her youthfulness and saying that Puryear-Tucker had been the initiator and aggressor in the fight. Prosecutors pushed for a sentence of a little more than 20 years, saying that Luna "comes before the court as a youthful offender only with respect to her age."

Said Kannin: “She was a naïve, impetuous 16-year-old girl, caught by surprise, made the poor decision to run around with a little pocketknife."

Said deputy prosecuting attorney Barbara Dennis: “Lola knew exactly what she was doing, and she enjoyed doing it. At the risk of sounding cliché, your honor, there really needs to be justice for Syanna. It is in your hands to make that happen.”

Houser noted Luna’s age and the "juvenile" nature of the dispute between the two girls but said he did not find a basis for going below the standard sentencing range in the matter, which he said was 123 to 220 months.

Houser said Luna had armed herself with a knife and hid it until the first punch was thrown by the other girl: “She could have returned to the home when she learned that Syanna had come to the house rather than (the other girl) and she didn’t. Instead, she advanced from the porch to Syanna, hid the knife, egged her on and in response to a swinging fist, she stabbed and slashed.”

Houser sentenced Luna to 12 years in prison, plus an additional two years for the use of a deadly weapon in the murder.

“There is nothing I can do here that’s going to bring closure, probably satisfaction or peace to either family represented here in the courtroom,” he said in conclusion. “But I believe that the sentence that I have just imposed is a just and reasonable sentence under the facts of this case.”

Reporting from the Kitsap Sun archives was used in this story.

This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Bremerton teen a gets 14-year prison sentence in murder case