Qwintin Deaundre Kirby receives life sentence in Gadsden 2016 murder case

Qwintin Deaundre Kirby this week received a life prison sentence for the murder of a 25-year-old man six years ago, and strong words from the judge who imposed it.

Michael Anthony Salster was shot to death Jan. 15, 2016, in Gadsden; Kirby was convicted in January, after a jury deliberated his fate for about two hours.

«This court is deeply troubled by what it perceives in today’s culture to be a growing disregard on the part of some individuals for the precious value of human life,» Etowah County Presiding Judge George Day told the defendant at sentencing. «You, Mr. Kirby, are one of these individuals.

«Your victim, Michael Salster, was unarmed, and you had a gun,» the judge said.

Day said he agreed with the jury’s finding — that there was nothing to indicate Kirby had a reasonable cause to believe that Salster might be armed. Yet he made the choice to pull the trigger, the judge said.

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“Both you and Michael Salster were only 25 years of age at the time of the murder. He was a son, a grandson and a father, and the court is saddened for his family that his life was cut short,» Day said. «Likewise, the court is saddened that by your senseless act, Your own family is placed in the position in which they find themselves today, as evidenced by the testimony of many of them.»

The difference, the judge said, is that Kirby’s family would have the opportunity to visit him in prison, while Salster’s family is left only with memories.

Salster was shot to death in the parking lot of the AGE Fuel Depot on Ewing Avenue, according to a press release from District Attorney Jody Willoughby’s office. Testimony indicated Salster approached a vehicle, talked to someone in the front seat, then Kirby rose from a reclining position in the back seat and shot Salster in the throat.

According to the defense, Kirby claimed he’d been threatened repeatedly by the victim, and that Salster acted aggressively that night, opening the back door of the vehicle and lunging at Kirby.

Kirby claimed that he fired his weapon in self-defense and that the shooting was justified. He fled the scene and was arrested the next day.

Gadsden police, led by Sgt. Eric Phillips, investigated the case, collecting physical evidence and video surveillance evidence that proved to be critical, Willoughby said, in the prosecution of the case.

Willoughby thanked the Gadsden Police Department, the state Department of Forensic Science, the jurors who heard the case and Day for the sentence he imposed.

“We feel very strongly that the imposition of the maximum sentence was appropriate in this case. We share the court’s concern about the growing, senseless violence in our community, and hope that sentences such as the one imposed by Judge Day will have the effect of deterring this conduct,» he said.

«We see too many heartbroken family members of victims and defendants who will be incarcerated for a substantial portion of their lives because of their tragic choices,» he said. «As a community, we have to do all that we can to stop the violence. This sentence is a much-needed step in that direction.”

The case was prosecuted by Willoughby, Chief Deputy District Attorney Marcus Reid and Deputy District Attorney Brynn Crain, who also expressed appreciation for the sentence.

“As one of the defendant’s witnesses said, there are no winners in this case. One young man is dead, and another is sentenced to spend perhaps the rest of his life in prison,» Reid said.

«The families of both young men suffer because of this defendant’s choices,» he said. «Somewhere along the way, we can only pray that people who look to violence as a first response to conflict will find a way to make different choices. We pray for both of these families, and all who are touched by the consequences of unnecessary violence.”

Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or [email protected]

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Gadsden murder case ends in life sentence for 2016 shooting death

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