116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — An uncle of 18-year-old Marisa Doolin, who was fatally shot in December, said he was outraged Tuesday that the man responsible was convicted of unintentionally causing her death. He said the court system allowing less punishing conviction makes his niece’s life seem “trivial.”
Dedric Doolin, Marisa’s uncle and president of the Cedar Rapids branch of the NAACP, said in a victim impact statement during the sentencing of Larenzo L. Burnett that a person “doesn’t put a gun in someone’s face accidentally — it was an intentional act.”
The uncle also said he was “disappointed in the court system” because the charge of involuntary manslaughter isn’t consistent with the act. This has been “frustrating” for her family and seems to say her life didn’t have “value.”
“This pain will go on forever,” Dedric Doolin said.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Ian Thornhill sentenced Burnett, 20, to five years for his conviction of involuntary manslaughter, a felony, and two years for tampering with a witness, an aggravated misdemeanor. Those two charges will run concurrently for a total of five years.
He also sentenced Burnett to another five years for a probation revocation for a previous conviction of intimidation with a dangerous weapon, which will run consecutively to the other five for a total of 10 years in prison.
Thornhill said he understands how Doolin’s family members must feel and how they’ve been affected, but “her life is not trivial to the court. There is nothing I could do to bring her back.”
“This is nobody’s fault but Mr. Burnett,” Thornhill said.
Thornhill told Burnett he hoped he takes advantage of his time in prison to change his life.
Burnett also will have to pay $150,000 restitution to Doolin’s estate or family, as required by Iowa law when an offender is convicted in a death.
During the hearing, Burnett turned toward the Doolin family in the courtroom and apologized, saying Marisa was his “best friend” and he wished everything was different.
Christine Doolin, Marisa’s stepmother, who also gave a statement during the hearing, said all of her family and many others in the community were affected by this death.
She didn’t believe Burnett should get another chance. She wanted him to serve a life sentence for taking a life.
“Guns in this town are ridiculous,” Christine Doolin said. “It needs to stop now.”
In a written plea filed in May, Burnett admitted to recklessly discharging a gun and threatening an individual who was a witness to the shooting.
A criminal complaint stated Burnett was waving a weapon around Doolin’s face and the gun was discharged when she tried to push it away on Dec. 22 of last year while they were in an apartment at 2110 Westdale Dr. SW.
Doolin was shot in the face and died Dec. 26 after being transferred from a Cedar Rapids hospital to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.
Burnett also threatened a witness who was in the residence at the time. Burnett and the witness ran from the apartment after Doolin was shot. Doolin was found at 3:25 p.m., lying on the couch, according to the criminal complaint.
Burnett and the witness — who is not identified — initially told police Doolin was shot through a window by an unknown person, according to the complaint. But police said there was no damage to any windows and a single shell casing was found inside the apartment.
Two days after the shooting, Burnett in a phone call from the Linn County Jail threatened the witness, saying to not talk to police and “to be ready for whatever is coming to him,” according to police.
Burnett also has a pending burglary charge out of Michigan and has waived extradition. He may serve his Iowa prison term first before being sent back to Michigan.
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