A 37-year-old Kansas man will be im*prisoned for several decades for ki*lling a 13-year-old girl and dragging her for “several miles” behind an SUV he stole from a restaurant parking lot over two years ago.
Sedgwick County District Judge Kevin Mark Smith sentenced Kevin M. Palmer to 493 months in prison — just over 41 years — on Wednesday for his role in the horrific and tragic de*ath of young Brianna Ibarra.
Palmer previously pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree reckless mur*der in connection with Brianna’s de*ath.
According to a Wichita Police Department press release, on February 6, 2021, officers responded to an emergency call about a grey Ford Escape travelling westbound on Kellogg Drive that was “dragging a female” on the outside of the car. Police located the vehicle at the intersection of Kellogg Drive and West Street and discovered the child, later identified as Brianna, “caught on the outside of the vehicle.” She was declared dead at the scene.
Brianna was discovered waiting in the car while her parents were having lunch at the Texas Roadhouse, which is located in the 6700 block of West Kellogg Drive.
“The investigation revealed the female was sitting on the driver’s side rear of the Escape while it was parked outside of a nearby restaurant running,” officials stated. “Her family went into the restaurant to get food while she stayed in the car.” Palmer jumped into the driver’s seat and fled in the car. While the vehicle was moving, the female attempted to exit. She became entangled in the seatbelt on the outside of the vehicle as she exited. Palmer kept running for several miles.”
Someone nearby witnessed the heinous situation and called 911 while also following Palmer in the stolen vehicle and relaying information to authorities. When police were able to pull Palmer’s car over, he attempted to flee on foot but was quickly apprehended. Unfortunately, Brianna had already died as a result of her injuries sustained while attempting to flee the vehicle.
WPD Chief of Police Gordon Ramsay described Brianna’s de*ath as “one of the saddest cases I have been associated with in my over 28 years of law enforcement.”
Palmer told Wichita ABC affiliate KAKE that he was homeless at the time he stole the vehicle and was only looking for a place to warm up after it had recently snowed. He told authorities that he didn’t notice Brianna was in the car until he came to a complete stop.
“Palmer stated that he did not see anyone in or near the vehicle, so he opened the driver’s door and entered the vehicle with the intent to steal the SUV,” according to the affidavit. “Kevin Palmer stated that the driver’s door was unlocked…that he threw his backpack in the front passenger seat, then looked into the backseat of the vehicle and did not see anyone in the vehicle.”
According to court documents, when officers were taking him into custody, he said, “Oh my God. Please help me. Is she gone? People claim she was hurt.” He also allegedly stated that if he had known there was someone inside the vehicle, he would not have attempted to steal it.
During his sentencing hearing, he reiterated that sentiment.
“There are no words to express how sorry I am that this happened and how much I regret what happened,” he allegedly said during the hearing. “Every single day, every single night, I can’t sleep, and I’m just in torment because of what happened and what I caused, and I didn’t know, I didn’t know that she was in the car, and I didn’t know that she was stuck in the seat belt, but at the same time, it was my stupidity that is the reason why this happened.”