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Memphis native sentenced to life in prison in deadly mass stabbing in Idaho

The hearing turned chaotic as the mother of a slain 3-year-old girl was dragged screaming from the courtroom after throwing a bottle at Timmy Kinner.

BOISE, Idaho — The man who killed a 3-year-old girl during a bloody rampage in Boise in 2018 will die behind bars. 

Timmy Kinner, 33, was sentenced Thursday to two fixed life sentences without parole, followed by 120 years behind bars, effectively guaranteeing he will never leave prison again. 

The nearly six-hour hearing turned chaotic at one point as the mother of the slain girl was dragged screaming from the courtroom Thursday morning after lobbing a metal water bottle at her daughter's killer. 

"Ruya! Ruya! Ruya!" the woman screamed. 

Kinner pleaded guilty earlier this year to first-degree murder and 11 other charges in connection to the mass stabbing at a child's birthday party at the Wylie Street Station Apartments. 

Three adults and six children were wounded, including the little birthday girl Ruya Kadir, who died from her injuries. 

Credit: Courtesy of Madia Mahtab
Ruya Kadir, 3, died two days after being stabbed at her birthday party in Boise.

Bifituu Kadir, her mother, said the attack happened when she stepped back into her apartment to get Ruya's cake. 

"I had a very happy girl. My daughter was very happy. She was sitting outside," Kadir said through a translator. "That man was outside sitting. So I had no idea that this individual was planning to kill my daughter."

"I wish he killed me instead," she continued.

Kadir said another child ran inside, crying too hard to be understood. At first, she thought that two men had gotten into a fight in the park. 

Then she saw Ruya.

"My daughter was laying by the door. Her eyes were open, my daughter's eyes were open," Kadir said through tears. "That day I tried to close her eyes. I just didn't want to see her open-eyed. I ran. I just couldn't make it. I just could not rescue her."

Officials say Kinner, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, knew no one at the party and had no reason to target the victims. Although those hurt were refugees from Iraq, Syria and Ethiopia, police say they do not believe their immigration status played any role in the attack. 

Defense attorneys painted Kinner as a deeply mentally ill man from a troubled background. Abandoned in a storage shed at age two, Kinner, who reportedly grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, was showing signs of possible schizophrenia by age seven, and ended up a caretaker for two smaller siblings with special needs while still a young boy himself. Both of his parents were addicted to crack cocaine, capital mitigation specialist Julia Yackel said, and as many as seven members of his family have been diagnosed with schizo-type or psychotic disorders. 

Kinner bounced from homeless shelters to jails to prison to Los Angeles' infamous Skid Row before alighting in Boise just before the attack. 

In a victim impact statement, Ruya's mother said that her life had been difficult as well, but she never used it as an excuse for violence. Kadir said she left her own family at 12, and cleaned toilets to eke out a living. Sometimes she wanted to die, she said, but her infant daughter gave her the will to live back. Ultimately, the two of them came to the U.S. as refugees when Ruya was just four months old.

"I said, 'Ruya is not going to live the life I lived. She is going to go to school. Ruya is going to dance,'" Kadir recalled. 

In court, Kadir confronted her daughter's killer, demanding to know why he had targeted the tiny girl.

"Are you sleeping? Are you eating? Do you remember? What did my daughter tell you?" she asked. "Because your life was bad, it doesn't give you the right to kill people."

He didn't look at her.

The mother erupted a short time later, as prosecutor Dan Dinger laid out a roadmap of the carnage: an 8-year-old boy knifed in the stomach, a woman stabbed more than a dozen times, a 7-year-old slashed across the face, a 2-year-old stabbed in the chest as she was carried in her mother's arms. 

Kinner pursued victims as they ran away, hid behind a curtain and leapt out onto them, and seemingly chose the youngest and smallest to go after, Dinger said. At some point, he came upon Ruya, sitting outside in the June evening, waiting for her slice of cake. 

"He picks her up, he stabs her in the heart, and he throws her to the ground," Dinger said.

At that moment, Ruya's mother lobbed a large metal water bottle in an arc across the room, smashing into the wood paneling near Kinner. Screaming, she rose and rushed toward him as others in the gallery and courtroom marshals struggled to hold her back. Kadir threw a tissue box across the room towards her daughter's killer as he was hustled from the room. Other marshals and security darted in, forming a melee as they struggled to pull the weeping woman to the ground. 

As she was pulled from the courtroom into the hallway, Kadir called out her daughter's name over and over.  

The prosecutor asked the judge to hand down the harshest sentence possible. A plea agreement in March had taken the death penalty off the table, but Dinger argued that Kinner should never again set foot outside of prison. 

"He is violent. He is a violent person, and he is not afraid to lash out at others," he said. 

Those who were attacked have been left with severe lasting wounds and psychological trauma, he said, including a woman stabbed in the neck and partially paralyzed. Another victim said he felt constantly on edge, and that his children were too afraid to go outside to play with their friends or join a soccer game. 

"The fact that a little boy has to go into the bathroom and open all the drawers to make sure no one is hiding in there is tragic," Dinger said. 

A recorded call captures the terror of 8-year-old Zane Mutlak, who was stabbed in the stomach by Kinner before hustling his baby sister into an apartment and calling 911.

"A lot of people have so much blood on them," the boy tells a dispatcher. Screaming and crying can be heard in the background of the call. 

"I'm scared. Where are you right now?" Zane asks on the recording. He starts to cry. He asks for his mother, the woman who was stabbed in the neck.

"We're driving there as fast as we can, with our big lights and sirens," the dispatcher answers.

Ruya's father, Recep Seran, said he spoke often with his wife and daughter over the Internet from Turkey, and that she was just beginning to recognize him. The girl had "such a good heart," he recalled.

"He is not a man," Seran said of Kinner. "A man would not kill a tiny little girl."

Dinger pointed to Kinner's previous criminal history, including incidents in which he slashed a cousin with a knife, forcibly grabbed and fondled a woman - then threatened her when she prepared to testify against him - shot someone during a robbery and tried to slash another inmate with a razor. Even since his arrest in the mass stabbing, the lawyer said, Kinner has repeatedly exposed himself to and masturbated in front of female staff members at the Ada County Jail. 

In court, Kinner apologized for what he had done, saying that he "wasn't in control" and that he hoped he could be forgiven.

"I never planned to kill this little baby. I never planned to hurt these people at all," he says. "I was just sitting there on the bench at the entrance to the park, trying to clear my mind of these crazy thoughts."

Speaking rapidly, he argued the prosecution was making up some details about the rampage, but added that he would not make excuses for his crime. 

"I do feel like it was an accident because I didn't do it intentionally," Kinner says. "I lost my mind and I lost my life, all because of a few minutes and one bad day."

As she pronounced the sentence, Judge Nancy Baskin said the people in the apartment complex "represented the best of humanity" as they tried to help and protect one another during the frenzy.

"Your actions on that day helped save other lives," she says.

She told Kinner that she did not believe he could ever be safely let back out into society. The immensity of the pain he had wrought called for a significant sentence, Baskin said. 

The back-to-back nature of the life sentences, coupled with the consecutive 120 years, assures that Kinner will remain incarcerated until the day he dies, she said. 

However long that takes, Ruya's mother said, she is determined to outlive him.

"I will go to where you are buried and I will spit on it," she said. "But that will not bring my daughter back." 

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