Kevin Harper given maximum sentence: 'I did not kill your friend'

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A convicted felon, but not a convicted killer. Kevin Harper insisted he didn't kill anyone before being sent to prison. | Raw: Harper addresses the court>>

Harper has waited a full year to hear his fate after striking a deal with the state. He agreed to plead guilty to a host of charges but not murder.

In the months that followed prosecutors tried to toss that deal and put Harper on trial for murder. That hasn't gone in the state's favor. Action News was in the courtroom for the plea deal sentencing that will still send Kevin Harper to prison.

Harper has been convicted of seven felonies including drug, weapon and burglary charges. But not the one charge many wanted to hear -- murder.

Friends of the Goggin family still blame Harper for the murders of three people back in 2011, but prosecutors just couldn't pin it on him.

"It's people like Kevin Harper that are causing this community to not be safe to even live anymore," said Roxann Faulconer.

So he pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Prosecutors recommended a seven-year sentence. A judge gave the maximum, almost a decade behind bars.

Harper had his own chance to speak. He told those friends of the Goggin family he was nowhere near these gates the night of the murders.

"To Mr. Morrisette, I didn't kill your friend, neither of them. I wasn't there on the property or anywhere around the property the night they died. Mr. Falconer, I did not kill your friend. I was not there or anywhere around the night they died. Mr. Vanderwall, the same thing. I was not there, I did not kill your friend and I'm sorry they're gone. Mrs. Faulconer, I'm also sorry that you lost your beloved friends. They should still be here," he said.

Harper cried as his estranged parents asked the judge for mercy.

The sentencing came when prosecutors lost their most recent effort to refile murder charges.

KIMA spoke with lead prosecutor Jim Hagarty about that plan last month.

"Say that's denied, what is the next step?" Action News asked. "Is the case going to be closed? Do you think someone got away with murder? Will the investigation continue?"

"You know, I don't know, because the fact is, is we're confident that its going to be reversed," Hagarty said.

In the court's eyes, the case is closed. Harper is off to prison but not for murder.

Now members of the Falcon Ridge community are left wondering: who was really here the night Bill, Pauline, and Bettye Goggin were murdered?

Family friends react to sentencing

Friends and family of the victims as well as people close to Harper were in court today. Some spoke trying to sway the judge about the time Harper should serve.

"We still have three friends and neighbors that were brutally beaten by an evil person," said Goggin family friend Ray Vanderwall. "I don't know who that evil person is. I have a suspicion, but I don't know who it is."

"For those who really know Kevin know he didn't do that," Harper's friend Raven Cutler said. "So it eats us up alive that he's up there and that he's going through what he's going through."

Bill, Pauline and Bettye Goggin were found dead in their West Valley home at Falcon Ridge in 2011. No one is charged with their murders.

Below: Harper addresses the court>>