Davis County man pleads guilty to shooting father

Apr 16 2013 - 7:33am

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FILE - Joseph Nance, 28, seen here in 2nd District Court in Farmington in late March, is charged with first-degree felony murder in the shooting death of his father. (Standard-Examiner file photo)
FILE - Joseph Nance, 28, seen here in 2nd District Court in Farmington in late March, is charged with first-degree felony murder in the shooting death of his father. (Standard-Examiner file photo)

FARMINGTON -- Joseph Allen Nance pleaded guilty to charges admitting he shot his father.

Nance, 31, entered guilty pleas on Monday to manslaughter and obstruction of justice, both second-degree felonies.

A sentencing hearing has been set for May 20. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison.

Nance admitted to shooting his father, Gregory Allen Nance, on March 19, 2011, at the Far West Motel in Kaysville. He also admitted to throwing a gun into a creek to hide it from officers.

Nance had told police he had shot his father in self defense.

He was originally charged with first-degree felony murder and third-degree felony possession of a firearm by a restricted person.

Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said the reason his office agreed to the manslaughter charge was because of Joseph Nance's mental illness at the time he misunderstood the actions of Gregory Nance.

Joseph Nance's mother, Cindy Nance, sobbed when her son said, "Guilty," to the charges read by Judge John Morris.

His sister, Charity Green, walked from the bench where she was sitting and sat next to her mother, wrapping her arms around the woman.

Rawlings said Nance's family is split concerning how the case should be resolved. Some of the family wants all of the charges dismissed, while others believe Nance should be charged with aggravated murder.

"We want you to know their wishes have been considered," Rawlings said to the judge.

Public defender Todd Utzinger said he also spoke to family members and "no one is completely happy."

Green said after the hearing that her grandfather and uncle wanted her brother to serve life without parole.

"But I think what they're doing is pretty fair," Green said. "My brother has changed and knows what he did was wrong. None of us want them to drag dad through the dirt and that was part of the reason (for the plea deal)."

Utzinger said after the hearing that he has been working toward a plea deal with the prosecutors and gathering mitigating evidence for quite some time.

That mitigating evidence includes Joseph Nance's mental state at the time of the shooting as well as "the history of the family abuse and the role it played the day (Nance) shot and killed his father."

Nance shot his father to death following an argument in which the elder Nance kicked his ex-wife and son out of the room he was renting at the Far West Motel in Kaysville.

After searching all night for Joseph Nance, police found him in a makeshift shelter in Layton.

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