Sad story for SK comes to an unsatisfying end

It’s hard to see the sentencing of Wayne Hower as anything other than the final chapter in what’s been a long and very sad story for South Kitsap.

Hower, 45, learned last week he’ll spend the next 23 years in prison for killing Al Kono, owner of PJ’s Market, last year. The sentence was determined as part of a plea agreement negotiated with the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office under which Hower agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.

From the start, there was never any question Hower killed Kono with a shotgun after the two had argued over Hower’s bill at the store.

Hower’s attorneys, however, originally had him plead not guilty by reason of insanity, and his long history of treatment for psychological disorders seemed to support such a claim.

Still, prosecution experts pointed to indications Hower was, in fact, capable of distinguishing right from wrong. Ultimately, they built a strong enough case that Kono’s lawyers felt it best to cut a deal.

Under the circumstances, what they agreed to seems like as fair an outcome for both sides as could be expected — not that it’s much comfort to the Kono family, which has to deal with the loss of a husband, father, son and friend.

They’ll be in our thoughts and prayers, as will Hower’s family and friends, who were dragged into this drama through no fault of their own.

As for Hower himself, we can’t generate much sympathy for someone who could commit an act that brought about so much pain and suffering to so many good people. At the same time, no one will ever understand the demons he fought and continues to fight.

Our best hope at this point is that over the next 23 years Hower will get the help he needs and come to appreciate just how horrendous a crime he committed.

That’s what the Kono family already knows and isn’t likely to forget. Not in 23 years, not in a lifetime.

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