YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Despite the fact a jury rejected his self defense claims and returned a verdict in only two hours against him, Kyle Rice Tuesday continued to insist he acted in self defense when he shot and killed the mother of his three children in February of 2019.
Just before he was sentenced to 28 years to life in prison by Judge Anthony Donofrio in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for the shooting death of Danekua Bankston, 28, the 32-year-old Rice apologized but said he had no choice but to kill Bankston in front of their young son.
“I apologize for this situation for which I was not the cause of,” Rice said in a quiet voice as he read from a sheet of paper. “I didn’t have time to think. It was act or die.”
Judge Donofrio, however, reminded Rice that jurors rejected his claims that he was forced to shoot Bankston after she attacked him without warning in her Oregon Avenue apartment and the judge added he did not believe his story either.
A jury convicted Rice July 21 on a charge of aggravated murder. Prosecutors said Rice, who had three children with Bankston, had been arguing with her on the phone the day she was killed.
Testimony showed he went to her apartment carrying a gun he said he always carried because he was a barber and he always had cash with him. Rice had a concealed carry permit.
The two argued in an upstairs bedroom with their young son in the bedroom when Bankston was killed. Bankston’s sister, Dajanae Bankston, was downstairs with the other two children when the shots were fired and she could hear her sister scream, “Kyle, don’t shoot!”
Bankston was shot Feb. 8, 2019, and died a few days later of her wounds at St Elizabeth Health Center.
Dajanae Bankston told Judge Donofrio she misses her sister every day.
“Every morning I wake up without my sister is a heavy weight on my chest,” Dajanae Bankston said. “We all miss her so much. The light of this world is gone.”
She told Rice he left their children without a mother and they do not understand why she is not around anymore.
“All I can do is hug them and hold them and tell them that she loves them,” Dajanae Bankston said.
Assistant Prosecutor Caitlyn Andrews also asked for life without parole. She said Rice planned to kill Bankston because he made sure he took his gun with him to visit her. Andrews also said Rice shot her several times and has never shown remorse.
Defense attorney Doug Taylor asked for the minimum sentence, which would be 20 years to life in prison. He said Rice has no prior criminal record and was a law abiding citizen before the shooting.
“There’s absolutely nothing that would indicate that he would end up in this position,” Taylor said.
Judge Donofrio also said he thought Rice displayed no remorse.
“I don’t know what set Mr. Rice off that caused him to take those actions that day,” Judge Donofrio said.
Rice received a sentence of 25 years to life in prison for the murder and an additional three years because of a specification that a firearm was used to commit the crime.