KENT, WA - A Kent man pleaded not guilty Monday to murdering his girlfriend on her birthday.
As the victim’s family hopes for justice, they want her story to be told in hopes it will help other victims of domestic violence.
The eyewitness in this case told Lullies Keymolen’s mother he’ll never get the sound of Keymolen’s screams out of his head. The young mother’s harrowing final moments haunt so many, as loved ones agonize over how it got to this point, and what more could’ve been done to get her out of the relationship that prosecutors say ended her life.
The last time her family saw her was on Aug. 26 - her 23rd birthday.
“She only lived to be 23 for three hours,” says Keymolen’s mother, Fabby.
The next day her mother got a knock at her door from Kent police officers that forever changed her world.
“When they told me to sit down ... this heat came into my body, I said, 'Just take me to her. I want to see her, I want to hug her, I want to kiss her,' and they told me she was killed. I felt like I died right there with her.”
Investigators say after Keymolen and her boyfriend of two years, Cordonte Walker, left her birthday celebrations with family, something went horribly wrong.
An eyewitness reported waking up to her screams for help and seeing Keymolen lying in a bush, while Walker allegedly beat her. When she was able to stand up, the witness says he saw walker intentionally run her over with his car.
The witness called 911 but walker quickly fled, dragging Keymolen’s lifeless body into his car. Her partially nude body was later found behind a nearby business.
For loved ones, having her funeral so close to celebrating her birth still feels unreal.
“Seeing her like that, touching her she was just cold, she was swollen still, you could still see a black eye, you could see his bite mark on her face, you could still see her jaw was broken,” says her brother, Gabriel Keymolen.
As family grapples with her horrific final moments, they’re also learning Keymolen kept things from them about her tumultuous relationship. They knew there was verbal abuse, but now they're hearing from some of her friends it was also physical, and that Walker has a history of domestic violence.
“I almost feel like she tried to spare us because she knows the extent we would’ve went to protect her,” says Keymolen’s ex-boyfriend and the father of her daughter.
Her brother says if he only knew then what he knows now.
“I would’ve asked her why, you know, why didn’t you speak up? Why didn’t you say anything?"
All they have left now is their memories and her 2-year-old daughter, a striking image of her. They’d do anything to have one more day with her, one more chance to help her get out of her relationship.
They desperately hope her story will help others confide in their loved ones and find strength to leave instead of fighting to make an abusive relationship work.
In King County alone this year there have been 11 domestic violence homicides and two murder-suicides, bringing the death toll to double the number it was for all of 2019.
Prosecutors say the amount of pending felony domestic violence cases is 70% higher than it was this same time last year. Like Keymolen’s family, they’re also hoping victims will get help before it’s too late.
The family has set up a gofundme for Keymolen's 2-year-old daughter. If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, there is a 24-hour crisis hotline. Call 1-800-799-7233 for help.