ROY -- Friends of Joseph Nance agree: Despite his troubled past, he is a big-hearted man who would help anybody and is not someone they thought would face charges of killing his father.
It's the death of Gregory Nance that Jared Etherington wrestles with, along with the fact his best friend is charged with first-degree murder.
Etherington, his mother, Colleen Etherington, and his friend, Tiffany Nelson of Clearfield, are trying to come to terms with the murder.
"We all love Joe," said Colleen Etherington, of Roy, wiping tears from her face. "He'd give the shirt off his back. Joe and Jared have their faults, but they have big hearts. I'll always love Joe."
Jared Etherington, who has known Joseph Nance for 10 years, said he cannot speak about the specific events of March 19 because Kaysville police are still questioning him. He said he was not involved in the shooting, but tried to save the older man's life after he was shot.
Joseph Nance, 28, appears at 1:30 p.m. today in 2nd District Court. Police said he admitted to shooting his 52-year-old father, but claimed self-defense. He is being held on $1 million bail in Davis County Jail.
Jared Etherington, who admits he has an extensive criminal history, said he and Joseph Nance spent hours together March 19 before the shooting at Far West Motel in Kaysville.
The two arrived at the motel with another person, to move Joseph Nance, his mother, Cindy Nance, and their belongings out of the motel.
Jared Etherington said Gregory and Joseph had their differences, which included domestic violence, but "Greg was a good guy."
"I'll be the first to say, (Gregory Nance) didn't deserve to die," Jared Etherington said.
Jared Etherington cannot find any justification for Gregory's death. He said he knows Joseph Nance did threaten to kill or harm his father, but "haven't you said something when you were angry you didn't mean?"
What police say Joseph Nance told them he did that night does not reconcile with the man Jared Etherington knows, despite the verbal threats.
"Joe is a giant-size teddy bear," Etherington said. "He's really, really kind and a gentle person. He's very protective of his sisters and mom."
Cindy Nance, 53, is Joseph's mother and Gregory's ex-wife. She became homeless four years ago following a lengthy medical stay at a hospital.
She and Gregory Nance were divorced in 2006, after 27 years of marriage. She said her son's criminal record and mental illness issues made it difficult for him to get a job and for them to find a permanent place to live.
Cindy said she and Joseph would stay where they could, sleeping on floors. Joseph made sure she was always warm and had food, said Cindy, who still deals with health problems.
The two ended up living with Gregory Nance in January when they had to leave the place where they had been staying.
"Actually, I think this is my fault, because I told Joey," said Cindy Nance, sobbing. "I shouldn't have told Joey that (Gregory) beat me up. I shouldn't have told Joey."
Court records show Gregory Nance had convictions for aggravated assault, domestic violence and violating protective orders. He recently was charged in Layton with class B misdemeanor assault in an incident that took place Dec. 31, 2010. Cindy Nance said her ex-husband's abuse is one of the main reasons she divorced him.
Joseph Nance was gone for several hours March 19, looking for a place for the two to live after a fight with his father, Cindy Nance said.
While he was gone, Gregory Nance got upset with Cindy and struck her several times. She left the motel room and went to the home of a friend next to the motel. Joseph and his friends returned to the motel, found Cindy Nance, gave her some food and then Joseph went back to his father's room to get their things, Cindy said.
That was the last time she saw him. A short time later, police were at the door, and looked through the house. They wouldn't tell her what had happened. It was only at the police station she learned her ex-husband was dead.
Tiffany Nelson, a friend of Joseph, said she fell off the chair when she heard police were looking for him. She headed for her mother, and the two fell into each others' arms, crying at the devastating news.
"It's still sinking in," said Nelson, 38. "It's not only a tragedy for their family, but for everyone who knows them. Lives have been changed."
Nelson said what has upset her the most is reading posts on Facebook and other Web sites about Joseph Nance.
"He's not the monster everyone is saying," Nelson said. "He's shown time and time again, he will do anything for those he loves."
Nelson said she knows Nance is no saint and she is aware of his gang ties. She also admits her past is not squeaky clean, "but (the drug convictions) does not define who I am."
She said her children who live with her call Joseph Nance "Uncle Joe."
Joseph Nance helped Nelson out many times over the years, from fixing the brakes on her car to caring for her children just a week before the shooting.
"Would a mom or a grandma allow a cold-blooded killer near their children or put them in his care?" Nelson said.