Wife gets 8 years in slaying of husband
The co-owner of a popular Southeast Washington tattoo shop was sentenced to eight years in prison on Thursday for last year's fatal shooting of her husband.
In preparing for the sentencing hearing, a court-appointed psychiatrist wrote that Kristin R. Kozak suffered from battered spouse syndrome when she took out a gun on Aug. 10, 2009, and shot her husband, Michael Burnette-Bey, 56, twice in the back and his left temple.
Kozak then called police and said she had shot her husband during a fight and that she was protecting herself.
Kozak, 37, and her husband had been married 16 months and lived in a two-bedroom apartment over the Liquidity Jones Tattoo and Piercing shop in the 1500 block of Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The couple opened the shop in 2008.
Thursday’s sentencing hearing was emotional, as Kozak’s family filled one row of the courtroom and Burnette-Bey’s family, many of them wearing pins displaying Burnette-Bey’s picture, filled others.
In June, federal prosecutors angered Burnette-Bey’s family when they accepted a plea deal and agreed to a seven- to eight-year sentence. During the hearing, Karen Denise Johnson, Burnette-Bey’s niece, tearfully told Judge Lynn Leibovitz that if Kozak feared for her life, she should have fled the apartment instead of shooting her uncle. “The door was next to the closet where she got the gun,” Johnson said. “He didn’t deserve to die as result of his wife’s psychotic behavior. He didn’t deserve to die like an animal.”
Kozak had a troubled past, and her husband’s death was not her first involvement in a killing.
In 2005, Kozak and her then boyfriend spent a week smoking crack in an Alexandria motel room with a prominent Harvard-educated federal lawyer. At some point, Kozak, the boyfriend, Dana E. Moro and then Securities and Exchange attorney Eric N. Miller, got into a fight. Police say Moro beat Miller to death with a lead pipe as Kozak watched. The two then continued to smoke crack as Miller bled to death. Kozak, according to Virginia authorities, then helped Moro drive a rental car with Miller’s body to Southeast Washington and set it on fire.
Kozak served as a key prosecution witness at Moro’s trial. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison. Kozak was not charged, but was ordered into drug rehab. Kozak also had penchant for drugs, mainly crack cocaine, which authorities said she had in her system the night she shot her husband.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Cobb defended the plea deal saying Burnette-Bey’s past — which included domestic abuse (including two prior complaints by Kozak) armed robbery, drug abuse and theft — could have persuaded a jury to have sympathy for Kozak and result in an acquittal had the case gone to trial.
“I wanted her to have life in prison. But will the family receive any closure if a jury is hung once or twice,” Cobb said. “The disposition may not be what the family wanted, but at least she accepted responsibility.”
During her brief comments to the judge, Kozak said she grieved for her husband, whom she referred to as her “pride and joy.”
“I am shattered and broken. My husband is gone,” Kozak said with her wrists and legs shackled. “I still wake up at night thinking he is going to come through the door or call me. I will always regret it.”
Washington Post editors
September 16, 2010; 1:12 PM ET
Categories: From the Courthouse , Homicide , Keith L. Alexander , The District
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