Sentencing, victim impact statements in local murder
by Neal Putnam
The sister and niece of a local murdered gay man spoke to a judge about their loved one during the victim impact segment of the sentencing hearing and explained why they were always concerned for his safety.
“Ken was so naive, so innocent, we worried someone would take advantage of him and that’s what Ryan Breeland did,” said Kimberli Coons-Banks, a niece of the deceased.
Kenneth Banks, 32, was found dead in a downtown motel room on June 9, 2021, after he was beaten to death by his boyfriend, Ryan Edward Breeland, 43. Breeland was sentenced to 40 years to life in state prison on May 17, 2023.
“Ryan Breeland was a monster,” Coons-Banks said. “Kenneth was used to being picked on by others, but the man he loved would kill him six months later.”
She also spoke to the defendant, now her uncle’s convicted murderer.
“You know how loving Kenneth was. You continued to beat the life out of him!” exclaimed Coons-Banks, staring at Breeland, who stared straight ahead, avoiding eye contact. “You’re not deserving of love! He gave us a life sentence and he deserves that sentence.”
“I can’t believe this happened to my dear, sweet brother,” said Kendra Banks, whose impact statement was read by Deputy District Attorney Taren Brast. “You knew my brother would not defend himself. You took advantage of a person who would not hurt a fly.
“You never loved him and that’s what breaks my heart, because that’s what Kenneth wanted,” Banks’ statement continued. “You tortured my brother. I hope to get some type of closure. I hope you get what you deserve behind bars.”
“Nothing this court can do can bring Kenneth Banks back or give his family closure,” said San Diego Superior Court Judge Rachel Cano.
The victim’s family members said they buried Banks in a white casket adorned with white flowers.
“In our eyes, Kenneth was an angel,” Coons-Banks said.
They said Banks was a gentle soul and a member of a Baptist Church in Encanto.
The family’s remarks partly explain why Banks seemed so passive in the wake of Breeland’s direct threats to him over the phone in a previously recorded call from jail after Breeland was arrested for domestic violence after first injuring Banks in 2021.
Banks told Breeland he wanted to break up with him, and Breeland said “The only way out is the graveyard.” He specifically said he would kill him once he got out, but Banks didn’t seem to react in the recording, which was played in court.
Breeland pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, committing domestic violence, and assault with a deadly weapon. He previously had a felony assault charge, which doubled the sentence.
He was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution for Banks’ funeral expenses and $959 to Banks’ sister. He was also fined $1,710, but given credit for serving 764 days in jail.
Breeland, wearing blue jail clothes, declined to give a statement in court or for the probation report. His lawyer also declined to make a statement.
With the 40-year sentence and credit for time served given, it is possible Breeland could be paroled when he is in his 80s.
–Neal Putnam is a local crime reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].