Judge gives Nance up to 30 years in prison for shooting father

May 21 2013 - 12:45am


Joseph Nance
Joseph Nance

FARMINGTON -- A splintered family was on display in 2nd District Court here Monday as the son was sentenced for fatally shooting the father.

Joseph Nance's March 19, 2011, patricide of Gregory Nance has divided the family, which became obvious last month when a plea bargain was announced, reducing a first-degree felony murder charge to a second-degree felony manslaughter charge. Some family members, such as Joseph Nance's grandparents, wanted to go to trial, while others wanted him released from jail.

Prosecutors at the time said a jury trial conviction on the murder charge was problematic because of the defendant's mental health issues and the victim's history of abusing his family. On Monday, Nance's public defender Todd Utzinger said his 30-year-old client likely had developed post-traumatic stress disorder by the time he was a teenager from the abuse by his father.

That included the rape of his mother in front of the kids a number of times, Utzinger told Judge John Morris. The mother, Nance, and his sister Charity, were all beaten by Gregory Nance, he said.

On Monday, daughter Charity asked the judge to give Joseph Nance credit for time served and release him from jail, where he has been since his arrest the day after the shooting. Reading from a letter in open court, she also said there were times she wanted to kill her father.

"That's despite the fact that she loves him as her father," Utzinger said after the hearing. "It's a family that loves each other but also loves to hate each other."

Joseph Nance has only had brief treatment for his PTSD, a period during his early 20s, Utzinger said.

"It's very unfortunate there wasn't some kind of mental health intervention early on with the dysfunctional dynamics of this family."

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.

Nance admitted to the shooting, police say, claiming self-defense when his father came at him with fists clenched.

Rather than take a beating, he grabbed a .22-caliber handgun from a dresser in the room and shot his father four times, then threw the gun into a nearby river. After searching all night for Joseph Nance, police found him in a makeshift shelter in Layton.

Morris sentenced him to one-to-15-year prison terms on the manslaughter charge and one count of obstruction of justice, ordering they run consecutively to make for a potential 30-year prison term.

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