Affable and generous to a fault, Louis Scherzer treated just about anyone he met as a friend.
But on the night of Nov. 27, 2016, the two young men who confronted Scherzer outside of his favorite Kansas City, Kan., bar did not extend the same courtesy to him.
To them, he was a stranger they tried to rob, and when he turned to get away, one of them ended his life with a bullet in the back.
On Thursday, the man who fired that shot was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Filiberto Espinoza Jr., 20, is one of two men charged in the killing of the 29-year-old Louis Scherzer, a union steward who worked for the Board of Public Utilities in Wyandotte County.
Scherzer was shot outside of a bar in the 600 block of Central Avenue where many of his family and friends were gathered inside.
Among them was Ellie Long, who was engaged to Scherzer. She said she was frozen in shock and disbelief that night when someone yelled he had been shot.
On Thursday, 19 days after their planned wedding day, Long spoke in a Wyandotte County courtroom about the loss of the man who always amazed her with his politeness and kindness.
“Even to this day, I’m shocked about how generous he was,” Long said. “Sometimes I got mad because he was too generous.”
More than anything, she said he would have been an incredible father to the children they would have someday had together.
“When he chose to kill Louis, he stole my future,” she said.
A number of other friends and family members spoke Thursday about Scherzer and the positive spirit he brought to them and the entire community.
Many wore shirts that read “Live Like Lou.”
“This community had no citizen finer,” said friend Doug Spangler.
Espinoza did not speak at Thursday’s sentencing.
He pleaded guilty in September to a charge of first-degree felony murder. Charges of conspiracy and attempt to commit aggravated robbery were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
The case against a co-defendant, Efrain Gonzalez, is pending.
Defense attorney Cline Boone said Thursday that on the night of the shooting, Espinoza was with the wrong person at the wrong time.
But Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Tatum said Espinoza posed a danger to the community.
“He picked out an innocent stranger and shot him for absolutely no reason at all,” she said.