FARMINGTON — A North Salt Lake woman will spend up to 15 years in prison for obstructing justice and tampering with evidence in her husband’s murder.
Prosecutors said after Cynthia Knight-Christensen’s sentencing Monday that they did not have sufficient evidence to charge anyone with murder in the July 4, 2018, killing of Reed Christensen, 67.
“There just was no beyond a reasonable doubt who pulled the trigger,” Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said. “There were multiple nefarious criminal personalities that could have pulled the trigger.”
As for Knight-Christensen, Rawlings said, “Her dirty fingerprints were involved, any way you cut the cake.”
North Salt Lake police arrested Knight-Christensen in November 2019, accusing her in a probable cause statement of being involved in the shooting of her husband.
But the Davis County Attorney’s Office never charged her with murder. Instead, prosecutors charged her with first-degree felony obstruction of justice, which could carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Those charging documents said Knight-Christensen conspired with two or more people to kill Christensen. They alleged she did not want to leave Christensen because she would lose her home and that he was going to report her for committing fraud. They said she offered them money to “make Reed’s death happen.”
In early April, Knight-Christensen pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to a reduced third-degree felony obstruction charge and a charge of third-degree felony evidence tampering.
Second District Judge David Connors on Tuesday morning sentenced her to 0-5 years in the Utah State Prison on each charge, to be served concurrently — but consecutively to an earlier fraud conviction in Davis County.
Rawlings said the sentence means Knight-Christensen could serve up to 15 years in prison. The exact term will be up to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
Knight-Christensen, now 55, also has fraud-related cases pending against her in Salt Lake County.
Gage Arnold, the lead prosecutor on the obstruction and tampering case, outlined to the court Monday the elements of the police investigation leading to the charges.
Arnold introduced a copy of the state medical examiner’s report, which concluded Christensen was shot once in the heart, a victim of homicide.
He presented evidence showing Knight-Christensen lied to police about various circumstances leading up to the shooting and in the days afterward.
Arnold said three other people, two men and a woman, alternately helped Knight-Christensen hide her car after she reported it stolen the night of the shooting, and again days later, and went with her to a Grantsville construction site to dump a computer drive torn out of her car and a bullet casing from the shooting.
One of the men told police in an October 2019 interview that Knight-Christensen arrived at another suspect’s Salt Lake apartment the morning of the shooting and said “I killed him.”
But prosecutors did not arrive at filing a murder charge because the various suspects “had incredible problems being credible,” Rawlings said. “It was hard to know who to trust and really know who did what to who, where.”
Knight-Christensen, speaking before Connors imposed the sentence, said she lied about having stayed at her son’s Salt Lake apartment the night of the killing because she was worried she would be kicked out of drug court if the Salt Lake court knew she was living in North Salt Lake. She also said she disposed of the computer drive from her car because she had been involved in identity fraud and she feared the drive would incriminate her for that.
Her motive really was “to cover her tracks in the criminal activity in Reed’s death,” Rawlings said.
Rawlings said his office still hopes evidence will be obtained to result in the filing of murder charges related to the case.
North Salt Lake police still are investigating, he said.
“There’s no gun and no bullet casing,” Rawlings said. “The gun not being recovered is a big deal with the case. But we do have leads.”
Rawlings praised police and Arnold for achieving a maximum conviction that the available evidence justified. “I view this as justice for the community,” Rawlings said.
Efforts to reach Michael Langford, Knight-Christensen’s attorney, were not immediately successful.
In the weeks leading up to the sentencing, several fellow inmates at the Davis County Jail wrote letters to Connors defending Knight-Christensen. They praised her for battling substance addiction, enduring domestic abuse and admitting financial crimes. One said she helped tutor younger inmates toward high school graduation.
Knight-Christensen has been in jail since her arrest in 2019.
Court records show Knight-Christensen had seven previous felony or misdemeanor convictions for forgery, theft, fraud and identity theft.