Published February 14, 2024

Killer Sentenced

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan

Murder at Lamplighter Lounge

MINOT – Moments before sentencing Justin McDermott, 35, Minot, for the late December 2022 murder in the parking lot of the Lamplighter Lounge, Judge Gary Lee told the court that, “This sort of conduct just can’t be tolerated.”

With that, Lee sentenced McDermott to 40 years in prison with the stipulation he serve 35.

Lee noted that McDermott, “Shot an unarmed man over nothing more than angry words” and “The gravity and outcome of this event cannot be overlooked.” He also said he hoped McDermott’s sentence would send a message to the community regarding carrying firearms in bars.

McDermott shot and killed Kenny Javar, 36, Minot, after a brief exchange of words inside the bar spilled into the parking lot. It was there that McDermott, according to State’s Attorney Rozanna Larson, “Got Javar in a headlock and shot him six times while he was on the ground. This was not self-defense.”

Larson told Lee that McDermott knew his actions would cause harm and that it “was a senseless act. She also quoted from a written victim impact statement that read: “We’ve had too many guns in bars”, a reference to recent shootings at bars in the city.

During the hearing McDermott, who pled guilty to the murder, told the nearly full courtroom that, “I deeply regret the pain I’ve caused. I’m at the mercy of the court for whatever sentence I deserve your honor.”

The session included victim impact statements. Taking the stand was the wife and son of Javar. The widowed Jennifer Javar, through tears, said, “At the end of the day nobody wins today. He had four beautiful children he loved dearly, the most beautiful gift he could give.”

Jaden Javar, 16, also gave an emotional statement.

“My dad was someone I never thought I’d have to live without,” said Jaden Javar. “Now I have to remember him longer than I’ve known him.”

Then Jaden Javar spoke directly to his father’s killer, McDermott.

“I want you to know I forgive you. I hated you but had to move past this for my dad,” said Jaden Javar. “Please give your life to Christ.”

The State recommended a sentence of life without parole. Defense attorney Philip Becher, noting that his client voluntarily pled guilty, asked for a sentence of 40 years with 20 mandatory.

Lee responded with, “I don’t think I can do anything to soften the horrible blow inflicted on everyone.”

McDermott’s 35-year sentence is subject to the 85% rule, meaning he will spend more than 29 years behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.

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