Cristopher Gaudreau will serve 25 years in prison for the October 2021 murder of his girlfriend, local LGBTQ+ activist and performer Rikkey Outumuro.
The sentence was at the high end of the standard sentencing range for Gaudreau, who had no criminal history prior to Outumuro’s murder.
Gaudreau was additionally sentenced to 14 months in prison, to run concurrent with the-25 year sentence, for shooting at a friend the night of the murder.
Gaudreau, 29, of Centralia, will serve 36 months on probation at the end of his jail sentence. He is additionally required to undergo domestic violence and substance abuse evaluations and complete any recommended treatment.
Lewis County Superior Court Judge James Lawler ordered Gaudreau to pay $6,614.59 to the crime victims’ compensation fund, with additional restitution for the family to be determined at a later date.
Lawler delivered Gaudreau’s sentence in front of a packed courtroom following an emotional hour-and-a-half hearing on Wednesday.
Twenty-one people submitted victim impact statements, several of which were read during the hearing, for Lawler to consider in his sentencing.
“First of all, I want to thank you all for the honor of letting me hear your statements and read your letters. It’s clear to me that Rikkey meant a great deal to a great many people,” Lawler said after giving his sentence on Wednesday.
Gaudreau entered an Alford plea — a form of guilty plea that allows him to take advantage of a plea agreement without admitting guilt while acknowledging the evidence could lead to a guilty verdict — to one count each of second-degree murder and second-degree assault on Oct. 10.
Gaudreau did submit a letter to the court several weeks later, on Nov. 7, stating he wanted to rescind his Alford plea, but Gaudreau’s attorney, Christopher Baum, advised him there was no legal basis for rescinding the plea. Baum added that, in his meetings with Gaudreau, he advised that maintaining the guilty plea was in Gaudreau’s best interest, and Gaudreau ultimately agreed.
Gaudreau confirmed that agreement before the court on Wednesday.
Gaudreau was arrested the afternoon of Oct. 31, 2021, after waking up on the floor of his residence in the 800 block of South Gold Street that morning to his 6-year-old son playing video games. He found Outumuro on the couch, dead, with five bullet wounds to her torso.
Investigators don’t know how much of the crime the child witnessed, but “that child was in the house, and that is something the court needs to consider,” said Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jackson. “I think we all as humans understand what kind of damage, having been present (for the crime can cause).”
In his victim impact statement, Rikkey Outumuro’s brother, Joseph Outumuro, recalled answering the door to his mother’s house the morning of Oct. 31, 2021, to find Gaudreau on the doorstep with his son, who was dressed in his Halloween costume with no coat on, despite the cold.
“I will never be able to forget the way he said with such little regard, ‘Dude, your sister is dead.’ So cold, so emotionless,” wrote Joseph Outumuro.
He said he screamed for his mother, Hope Schumacher, who asked Gaudreau if he had called 911.
Gaudreau reportedly “shrugged his shoulders” and said no, he had not.
Joseph Outumuro then demanded Gaudreau take him to his sister.
“I will never forget pulling into that driveway and sprinting to the front door, praying to myself, ‘Please God let him be wrong,’” Joseph Outumuro wrote. “I opened the front door that morning and immediately my worst nightmare was made a reality. There she was on the couch, arms still crossed protecting her face in an attempt to shield herself from the brutality and violence that was inflicted upon her.”
Jackson confirmed that forensic testing found gunpowder on Rikkey Outumuro’s clothing, indicating that the gun was fired in close proximity.
“This was an up close and personal shooting,” he said.
In December 2021, prosecutors added the second-degree assault charge to Gaudreau’s case after officers learned Gaudreau allegedly shot at a friend around midnight before the murder.
The friend told detectives he was near Gaudreau’s and Outumuro’s residence in the 800 block of South Gold Street “looking for his ex-girlfriend and his vehicle” when, between midnight and 1 a.m., he saw the couple return to their residence. Outumuro was driving and Gaudreau was the passenger in their vehicle, according to the friend. The friend said he began to approach and “heard the two were arguing,” according to court documents. As he approached, the friend said Gaudreau “did not recognize him” and “shot at him with his handgun.” Gaudreau reportedly stopped shooting once he identified his friend.
“He was quick to pull that firearm,” Jackson said. “That shows a great lack of caring for human life.”
Gaudreau told police he was carrying his handgun when he and Outumuro went out drinking on Oct. 30, but when he woke up on Oct. 31, “the firearm was missing and he did not know where it was located,” according to court documents. Detectives later found the firearm in a tool chest in the back bedroom of the residence.
“It was proven through forensic testing that his firearm that he fired earlier that evening was the one that was used to kill Rikkey,” said Jackson.
That same firearm was confiscated by police in August 2021 after Gaudreau discharged the weapon into a tree in the backyard, according to court documents.
Schumacher, Outumuro’s mother, told the court Wednesday that Gaudreau discharged the gun during an altercation with Outumuro, while his son was present. Outumuro reached out to Schumacher for help, which led the police to respond.
Gaudeau's son, identified in victim impact statements as Anthony, went home with Schumacher after that incident.
“That night and all the next day, Anthony would tell us ‘My daddy is going to shoot my mommy in the face!’ He repeated it like a broken record in a very excited voice. It was eerie,” Schumacher said.
Police had returned the weapon to Gaudreau on Oct. 28, three days before Outumuro’s death, after Gaudreau finished a gun safety course.
“The timing of her death, so close to getting his guns back, suggests that Cris was waiting for this moment, to use the very weapon that was taken from him as a result of her asking for help,” Shumacher said.
Several of the 21 victim impact statements submitted to the court ahead of Gaudreau’s sentencing stated that Outumuro was trapped in a domestic violence relationship with Gaudreau and noted that Gaudreau’s demeanor and behavior changed for the worse when he started buying guns.
“Rikkey spoke to me before her death, worried about the guns that were starting to multiply in her home. Cris brought those weapons home and convinced her that they would protect them and their son. Never did I see this so-called protection would be used to take her life,” wrote a longtime friend of Outumuro’s in a victim impact statement.
“This case is heart-wrenching because I know it involves something this court sees on a daily basis, though not usually to this level: domestic violence,” said Jackson, later adding, “perplexing to the family is that they took Cristopher Gaudreau into their lives and made him part of their family … (there was) an extreme betrayal of trust.”
That feeling of betrayal is common in domestic violence cases, Jackson said.
“That’s hard to get over and I think that warrants the court’s consideration,” he said.
Schumacher added: “I have buried my mother, my uncle, my grandmother and some very close friends, but there is absolutely no comparison to burying your own child. There is nothing natural or right about it. I can’t even put into words the pain and anguish I have felt since her death, I never knew this kind of pain could even exist. Had she died of a heart attack or a car accident, it may have been different. But, with Rikkey being murdered in such a brutal way, it has been overwhelming.”
Gaudreau has consistently claimed he “blacked out” and did not recall anything between 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 30 and 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 31, at which time Outumuro was already dead.
“He has not had a recollection of how this played out and I think that’s been extremely frustrating for him. It’s been confusing for him,” Baum said. “I can tell the court that he has struggled with what happened here, he misses his partner, he did not want this to have happened.”
Gaudreau’s blood alcohol content was tested upon his arrest at 1:15 p.m. on Oct. 31, roughly five hours after he showed up on Shumacher’s porch. The results came back with a .08 reading, according to Jackson.
“So he was legally intoxicated at least five hours after he had stopped drinking,” he said.
When asked to give a statement before the court on Wednesday, Gaudreau said he has been struggling to remember what happened “for my own sake and sanity.”
“I am regretful, it is a very heinous situation, and I don’t know if anyone has taken into consideration what I’ve gone through, sitting in a cell for 13 months with nothing to do but think about this,” Gaudreau said.
Gaudreau continued to speak about things he believed had been “swept under the rug” in the investigation of the case, including his belief that he was the victim of verbal abuse by Outumuro, his belief that Outumuro fired a shot at the floor at some point during the altercation, claims that witnesses to the argument before the murder didn’t hear a gunshot and claims that his son doesn’t believe Gaudreau killed Outumuro.
“I’m a good person at heart. I know I would never plan something like this, yet alone do it,” Gaudreau said.
“Not being able to fully comprehend what has occurred and why it has occurred has been a major barrier to healing for me and my family,” Schumacher said. “Cristopher has not taken full responsibility for what has occurred. Even with his plea, he has refused to take full responsibility for Rikkey’s murder. So, thus far, it remains — there has been no healing. There has only been an adjustment to living with the pit in my gut — my new reality. I have lost my baby.”
Explaining his reason for sentencing Gaudreau on the high end of the standard sentencing range, Lawler said, “It’s not the popularity of the victim that demands this sentence. … It's the actions of the defendant that make the difference. It matters that this was a domestic violence case. It matters that there was really a betrayal of the trust in this family. It matters how he used a firearm. It matters how he didn’t call 911 or do anything to try and help. And it matters how he frames himself as the victim in this case. How it’s been so hard on him. I didn’t hear anything on how hard it was on the family. I didn’t hear anything about remorse. … It shows a fundamental lack of appreciation for the pain and suffering that other people have gone through.”
Lawler added that he watched Gaudreau “smirk and make faces” while listening to Outumuro’s family read their statements before the court on Wednesday.
“That’s part of the victim blaming and trying to recast yourself as the victim that has had an impact on me,” Lawler said.
Gaudreau will receive credit for the time he has served in jail since his arrest last year, which will be calculated by the Lewis County Jail.
While those who submitted victim impact statements asked for the high end of the sentencing range, they acknowledged that it would do little to heal the loss they have suffered.
“Twenty-five years is nothing compared to the years we have lost of Rikkey,” Shumacher said. “She had decades left to serve and love. And, in 25 years, my family will be burdened again. We won’t be able to live here with him being released.”