FARMINGTON — Kristopher Ertmann valued his ex-wife’s life at only $5,000.
Chilling words came out of Ertmann’s mouth during a video of an undercover sting operation that was played at his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
“Yup, have fun” Ertmann said, not once, but twice to the officer who was posing as a hit man. The officer visited Ertmann at the Davis County Jail and showed a photo of Ertmann’s ex-wife, Tiffany Mead, on his cell phone. Mead knew about the sting and agreed to have the officer take her photo, prosecutors said.
Ertmann then offered to pay the undercover officer $5,000 to kill Mead, whose throat he slashed on July 23, 2013, in Fruit Heights.
Judge David Hamilton sentenced Ertmann to serve two terms of 5 years to life at the Utah State Prison. Ertmann had entered no-contest pleas in July to one count of attempted aggravated assault and one count of criminal solicitation. Both charges stem from incidents where Ertmann either tried to kill Mead or hire someone to kill her. The sentences are to run consecutively.
Hamilton also sentenced Ertmann to serve 1 year to 15 years at the prison for a communications fraud case, which involved a different victim.
Hamilton said he acknowledges the service Ertmann rendered when he was enlisted in the Army. Claims by Ertmann and his family that he received a head injury while serving in Iraq caused him to act the way he did toward Mead could not be substantiated.
Hamilton said Ertmann’s “life-threatening acts did not stop with a knife to (Mead’s) throat,” as Ertmann attempted to hire a hit man while being incarcerated at the jail.
Before Ertmann was sentenced, Mead spoke to the court, as did Ertmann’s parents, and Ertmann also spoke at the hearing.
Prosecutors also played several videos of interviews done with two former inmates who said Ertmann tried to hire them to kill Mead. Prosecutors also played a video of the sting operation. The judge ordered the media not to record the videos or name the inmates, for safety reasons.
Ertmann’s attorney, Gil Athay, said in court prosecutors played the videos to “inflame the public” and “to show off for the media.”
Deputy Davis County Attorney Richard Larsen said he was offended by those statements.
Larsen said he played the videos even though the judge had the reports “because if a picture is worth 1,000 words, those videos spoke volumes.”
The video of the sting shows Ertmann on a phone talking to a man, who is an undercover officer, at the visitors’ center inside the jail. All visits are recorded at the jail.
The man said to Ertmann, “ I took a couple of pictures and I want to verify with you.”
He then took a few moments to search his phone. He holds up the cell phone to the window.
“Is that her?” the man asks.
“Yes,” Ertmann said.
Then they talk about what Ertmann wants done and Ertmann said, “Make it happen.”
The man then asks if Ertmann understands what he is asking and Ertmann said, “Yup, have fun.”
“You’re saying all the way, right?” the man said.
“Yup, have fun,” Ertmann said.
When the man asks Ertmann how soon he wants the job done, Ertmann said, “The sooner, the better.”
The two then discussed payment and Ertmann asked the man if $5,000 was OK. The man said it was.
Larsen said he does not believe Ertmann can be rehabilitated and that he is a danger. That is why he asked the judge for consecutive sentences.
Ertmann’s mother, Sally Ertmann, cried when she spoke in court. She said her son can be rehabilitated and that “it broke my heart” to hear Larsen’s comments.
She said before her son went to Iraq he had no police record and that he was a good man. But something changed her son.
’I’ve lost my son,“ Sally Ertmann said as she went back to her seat.
Kristopher Ertmann sat with his head down while Mead told the court about how he attacked her that night in a public parking lot in front of their son.
“I told him to let me go,” Mead said, who still has a 7-inch thin, white scar across her neck. “I didn’t want him touching me.”
Mead cried as she described in detail the events of that night.
He had pulled out a knife, slit her throat and told her not to scream, Mead said as she sobbed.
“I just stood there and felt the blood pouring down my neck,” Mead said.
Mead said Ertmann forced her back into her car and then told her to drive. He also told her they had to agree on a story before they called 911.
She said as she drove the car, she could hear “drip, drip, drip” and when Ertmann asked her what that sound was, she told him, “That’s the sound of me bleeding to death.”
Ertmann’s attorney told the judge at the sentencing hearing Ertmann was not going to make any statements. Hamilton asked Ertmann as part of the court procedure if he wanted to make any statements.
Ertmann stood up and said, “I was on those pills and they take away your emotions .... If I was in my right mind, I wouldn’t have done those things.”
He went on to say, “Yeah, I did it, but I’m not dangerous. I’m the type of person who gives up my food to help people out.”
Mead first spoke to the Standard-Examiner on July 16 to let others know that abuse should not to be tolerated.
Mead said after the hearing she was prepared to see and hear the video where Ertmann “was hiring a hit man just like you order a hamburger at McDonald’s,” but it still shocked her.
And when Ertmann said he was not a danger, “I wanted to punch him in the face,” Mead said.
Mead said Ertmann is still downplaying what happened that night, “when he almost took my life.”
For those in domestic violent relationships who need help or for more information about how to get help for someone call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) or go to udvc.org/udvc/utah-domestic-violence-linkline.