Russell Kee
Modesto Police Department

Russell Kee, 47, made his guilty plea on Dec. 22 in the shooting death of 24-year-old Kyle Hoffman in 2014

December 29, 2017 05:32 PM

A Modesto, California, man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2014 shooting of his wife’s boyfriend, PEOPLE confirms.

Russell Kee, 47, made the plea on Dec. 22 in the death of 24-year-old Kyle Hoffman. Upon entry of the guilty plea, a judge sentenced him to spend 18 years to life in state prison.

Authorities said that on Aug. 10, 2014, Kee shot and killed Hoffman while the younger man was sitting in his car in front of an apartment building on Lakewood Drive in Modesto.

“This case is a tragedy for everyone involved,” says Kee’s attorney, Douglas Maner, adding, “Russell is looking forward to moving on with his life and do the best he can and get paroled at the earliest possible opportunity. He will be eligible for parole in 15 years.”

A witness saw Kee shoot Hoffman, of nearby Dos Palos, California, and then speed off in the car with his dead body.

The car and Hoffman’s body were later found in an alleyway. Kee was arrested after officers found him nearby, soaking wet, having jumped into a swimming pool in an attempt to wash Hoffman’s blood off his clothing, according to prosecutors. He had dumped most of his clothing into garbage cans.

Prosecutors tell PEOPLE that Hoffman and Kee’s wife, Brandye Kee, were in a relationship. The couple had reportedly lived together in 2012. (Efforts to reach Brandye for comment on Friday were unsuccessful.)

Hoffman was killed outside the apartment complex where Russell and Brandye had an apartment, the Modesto Bee reports.

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Maner claims his client “was a doormat throughout most of his relationship and was a victim of a lot of abuse, and as a result he snapped. The love he has for his children and the love they have for him speaks loudly.”

Hoffman’s mother, Suzanne Hoffman, told the Bee that her son played basketball with the Kees’ son in junior high school and had known the family for several years. She says she knew Kyle had previously dated Brandye but didn’t know they were seeing each other at the time of his death.

Kyle’s brother Eric Hoffman previously told the paper that his brother became more responsible and caring through his relationship with Brandye.

“She helped my brother mature and grow,” he said. “You have to judge someone based on the quality of their actions, and I can only judge her on the actions she has shown me.”

“She went back and forth between the two of them,” Maner says of Brandye. “It is your classic love triangle. It is a really horrible thing that happened.”

Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann says he knew both Russell and Kyle, who had participated in a law enforcement exploring program as a juvenile to learn about becoming a police officer.

At odds with the crime he committed, Mann says Russell was a “calm” and “hard-working family man” who seemed like “the last person you would expect to do something like that.”

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Kyle, Mann says, “wanted to be a cop all of his life” but was stymied by a rebellious streak as a teenager.

“I would say just Leave It to Beaver-style stuff: knuckle-head, driving up and down the street knocking people’s mailbox off,” he explains. “It kind of ruined his chances to become a cadet for our police department because it wouldn’t hold well — silly stuff, but in a small community people usually find out these things and then you are not the person they want to see in a law enforcement uniform holding people accountable.”

Mann says Kyle was “teary-eyed” when he was given the news, but he would reach out every once in a while to let them know he was still interested in working in law enforcement.

“He wanted to impress people he respected,” Mann says. “He wanted to be seen as good. When you let him know that he disappointed you in any way, it kicked him in the teeth pretty good. He always tried to work to make amends. He didn’t run from you. He came back and tried to address it and find a way to make it better.”

“The last time I talked to him [Kyle] was in a convenience store in town and he made me a bet that he was going to make it,” Mann says.

“It is a tragedy all the way around,” he says. “When you hear a person committed such an act that you would never have guessed it would ever happen and the last person you think it would happen to, you get a double shock. How their lives collided and ended in such a way.”

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