3 men sentenced to life in prison for 2017 murders of Kitsap County family

3 men sentenced to life in prison for 2017 murders of Kitsap County family
3 men sentenced to life in prison for 2017 murders of Kitsap County family

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — Three men convicted in the murder of a Kitsap County family will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

Judge Kevin Hull handed down the maximum possible sentence under Washington state law to Danie Kelly, Robert Watson and Johnny Watson after hearing about an hour of testimony from the victims’ family members in court on Tuesday.

“Never could I have imagined my whole world- I was only 14 when my family was murdered,” stated Brianna Careaga as she described wearing her father’s necklace in her memory more than seven years after the violent killings of four family members. “I will forever crave that love a father gives and search for in every man I come across.”

Detectives have said the 2017 murders of John and Christale Careaga, Hunter Schaap and Johnathon Higgins that rocked the Kitsap Peninsula happened over drugs and money. The victims’ bodies were found in their scorched home and in a burned truck on a tree farm.

Cariaga was among more than a dozen speakers from her blended family at the sentencing for Danie Kelly, Robert Watson and Johnny Watson.

The three were found guilty in April after a months-long jury trial that Schaap’s mother described as excruciating as she clung to her son’s urn.

“We spent what would’ve been Hunter’s 24th birthday in court listening to closing arguments from the defense,” Hunter’s mother Carly Schapp told the judge.

Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Kevin Hull ultimately gave them each four life sentences without parole, one for every count of aggravated first degree murder. They were each sentenced an additional 320 months for attempted murder and 30 years in firearm enhancements.

“Nothing seems satisfactory to me. The damage here is too much,” Judge Hull explained before announcing the sentences.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE | Careaga murders: 3 suspects pleaded not guilty to Kitsap killings linked to cocaine, cash

Kelly and the Watson brothers declined to speak in court, and appeared emotionless while listening to the victims’ family describe all they’ve lost as a ripple effect from this tragedy.

“I’m now anxious and depleted most of the time. “My mind riddles with the effects of PTSD,” Schapp added.

One speaker told KOMO News off camera the sentencing brings a sense of relief as this tight-knit group looks to the future.

“We are dismissing the label ‘victim,’ and starting our process of healing, and we will carry this through as survivors,” Dallas Llamas stated.

The attorneys for Kelly and the Watson brothers said they plan to appeal.

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