Man gets life sentence in murder of pastor's daughter found under church stairs

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A 29-year-old Ohio man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for beating a pastor’s daughter, a young mother, to death with a garden tool and hiding her body under stairs outside the church.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Deborah Turner sentenced Jamal Kukla to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after serving 15 years behind bars for the September 2018 murder of 31-year-old Jasmine Washington, the daughter of Rev. James Washington, who was the pastor of Straightway Bible Fellowship at the time, Fox8 reported.

Kukla was arrested in May 2020 after officials at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations were able to match his DNA with DNA that was found at the scene, the network said, adding he did not apologize for his actions during the hearing.

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The Rev. Washington was quoted as saying his daughter had mental health issues, remembering her as having a beautiful singing voice, loving her family and being very kind. “She might have had some challenges. She was loved. She will not be forgotten,” he was quoted as saying.

The woman’s parents said they forgave Kukla but didn’t want him to have parole eligibility, according to “I just hope he never gets out,” the pastor was quoted as saying.

During the hearing last week, Washington told Kukla: “You probably thought you could get away with this crime because you thought she had no money or she wouldn’t be missed. You were wrong. You will always be remembered as the man who killed the daughter of a pastor.”

Kukla was convicted last month of murder, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse.

Kukla and the victim didn’t know each other before the murder, according to prosecutors.

The convict beat Washington multiple times in the head with a Garden Weasel, shattering her skull. He then hid her body under a broken staircase behind Broadway Christian Church and covered it with branches. The body was discovered several days later, on Sept. 17, 2018.

The woman’s parents said after the sentencing that their faith guided them through the worst four years of their lives.

The victim left behind three children, according to 19News.

Kukla’s attorney, Jaye Schlachet, was quoted as saying he plans to appeal the conviction.

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