A Tempe woman who shot and killed the father of her infant son on the day he took a paternity test was properly sentenced to life in prison for premediated murder, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
Kathryn Sinkevitch gave birth to a boy in August 2016, after which her former boyfriend, Michael Agerter, sought to establish paternity and visitation rights. But Agerter was shot in the back of the head around 2p.m. on Dec. 16, 2016 as he returned to his home after taking a paternity test.
Sinkevitch, now 36, was apparently “not very happy” about Agerter’s efforts to assert paternity. She once even questioned whether she could take someone else’s baby for the test.
Agerter’s paternity was later confirmed but he died without having a chance to spend time with his son.
Sinkevitch was questioned by police the day of the shooting but was not arrested until four days later. The case did not go to trial until May 2019 at which time the jury convicted on premeditated first-degree murder.
The trial judge then sentenced Sinkevitch to natural life in prison without possibility of release. She appealed her conviction based on arguments that the trial judge erred in admitting some evidence.
In its Oct. 29 decision, court of appeals unanimously affirmed Sinkevitch’s conviction and the mandatory sentence.
“We view the evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the conviction, drawing all reasonable inferences against Sinkevitch,” the decision reads.
Court record show jurors heard testimony that a neighbor reported hearing three gunshots then saw a white van speed away. Surveillance footage from the area revealed a person wearing a hooded sweatshirt running from a white van toward Agerter’s house as his car pulled into the garage.
The person in the hoodie appeared to be carrying papers in one hand. A mere 11 seconds later the person ran away from Agerter’s house and drove off in the same white van.
Security video from Sinkevitch’s workplace the day of the shooting showed she left around 12:30p.m. wearing a hooded sweatshirt. A white van belonging to a co-worker left the parking lot around the same time even though the van’s owner was still inside the building. The van returned at 3:19p.m., and Sinkevitch is seen reentering the building a minute later.
A hoodie sweatshirt with gunpowder residue was later found in the van. Another hoodie with gunpower residue was seized from Sinkevitch.
One of Sinkevitch’s arguments on appeal was that the prosecutor failed to prove paternity case papers found in her vehicle after her arrest were the same papers carried by the person seen outside Agerter’s house.
The court of appeals addressed that issue in its decision, noting that “had the trial court erred in admitting these documents, such error would have been harmless given the substantial evidence supporting the jury’s verdict.”
The appellate decision takes effect in 30 days unless Sinkevitch files a petition for review to the Arizona Supreme Court.