By RALPH BARTHOLDT
COEUR d’ALENE — Kyle Odom distinguished himself in the Marine Corps and academically as a biochemistry major and a genetics researcher at Baylor, but it was on a flight home to Idaho from Texas that the nightmare began, Odom said Monday at his sentencing for shooting Coeur d’Alene pastor Tim Remington.
“I felt like I was dreaming, and I could not wake up,” Odom told the court. “I still feel the same way.”
The nightmare would follow him through a suicide attempt and his enrollment in a Veterans Affairs mental health program. It eventually entwined Remington, the pastor’s family and his congregation at The Altar, Remington’s Coeur d’Alene church, where the pastor was shot six times by Odom more than a year ago in front of family and friends.
In sentencing Odom for aggravated battery, First District Judge Lansing Haynes split the recommendations of deputy prosecutor Rebecca Perez and deputy public defender Chris Schwartz, ordering Odom to spend a fixed 10 years behind bars with an additional 15 years indeterminate. That means Odom must serve 10 years, with credit for the more than 600 days he has already been incarcerated, while the prison parole board will determine how much of the additional 15 years he must serve before being released on parole.
Haynes said he chose the middle ground between the prosecutor’s recommendation, which called for a 15-year fixed sentence, and the defense recommendation, which asked for five years fixed so Odom could be penalized, but also get the medical help in prison that he needs.
Both attorneys had agreed as part of a plea bargain that Odom would spend no more than 25 years behind bars, something Remington and The Altar’s assistant pastor John Padula considered just.
“I think it’s great,” Padula said. “I think his regret is sincere. The sooner we get him out, the sooner he gets help in the community, the better.”
In a statement to the court, Odom had voiced his remorse for what he had done, explaining his mental state, his attempted suicide and that he considered the delusions real that prompted him to shoot Remington.
Odom, 32, a former Marine combat veteran, according to testimony, shot Remington in the church parking lot on the 900 block of East Best Avenue, emptying a 12-round magazine before fleeing.
The shooting had been meticulously planned, according to a police investigation that backtracked Odom’s movements for weeks prior to the incident.
After the shooting, Odom fled to Washington, D.C., where he was arrested by security officers after throwing documents and computer flash drives over a fence onto the White House lawn.
According to a 30-page manifesto Odom sent to Idaho news outlets, Odom thought he was being tormented by “hypersexual” mind-controlling Martians.
Odom said Monday the nightmare began while flying back to Idaho from Texas when a man in the plane told him to buy a cellphone and wait for a call. Odom said Remington called him, starting a series of events that seemed supernatural and culminated in the near fatal shooting that has left an indelible and painful mark on Remington and his family.
“I don’t think there is a place in my life it hasn’t impacted,” Remington told the court.
He was shot in the right side, through his back and in his right hand with a .45-caliber handgun Odom wielded that March afternoon. A bullet struck his skull, and his insides are so full of shrapnel, he said, that on an X-ray, “it’s just glitter.”
“My hand feels like it’s in a deep fryer all the time,” he said.
But it isn’t just that, Remington said. He can no longer play with his grandchildren like he used to, he has memory lapses, was in a wheelchair, carried a colostomy bag. His insides are so torn up, he said, including his prostate, that he can no longer be intimate with his wife. He remembers lying in the parking lot after being shot and wanting his son to be nearby, but authorities kept everyone away, he said.
Thinking he would die without family greatly affected him. Just as the aftereffects of the shooting have changed his life.
Yet, he told the court, he forgives Odom and wishes him no harm.
“I’m going to be the victor in all of this,” Remington said. “The victim, I believe, is Kyle Odom.”
He told Odom he forgave him, and that his family forgives him.
“There’s enough hate in this community,” he said. “What you have in me is a friend, no matter what you did.”
Haynes called Odom’s manifesto “chilling,” a cross between science fiction, psychosis and the supernatural, and referred to Remington’s testimony as spiritual.
“It’s hard to know what forces are exerted,” he said.
But, forgiveness, Haynes said, “that’s a supernatural reaction,” and one the court doesn’t often hear about.
The judge ordered $216,300 restitution, with more to follow as bills for Remington’s medical and physical rehabilitation continue to add up.
In addition to the aggravated battery conviction, Odom, who had no previous criminal record, was also convicted for a felony firearms enhancement.