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Max sentence for suspect in Pineview boating death

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Posted at 4:19 PM, Jan 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-24 00:53:29-05

OGDEN, Utah - One of three men charged in connection with the August 2011 death of a University of Utah researcher was given the maximum sentence on Wednesday.

Police say that Skyler Shepherd, Colton Raines and Cole Boyer hit Esther Fujimoto, who was swimming in Pineview Reservoir, with their boat, cutting her up with the propeller.

Prosecutors said that Shepherd, Raines and Boyer turned around and asked Fujimoto, "Lady, are you okay," then fled the scene, leaving her to die.

They argued that Fujimoto never asked for help and even told them that she was okay, so they left the scene.

Shepherd was convicted of misdemeanor reckless endangerment, obstruction of justice and failure to render aid. He received the maximum sentence on Wednesday and will spend 2 1/2 years behind bars.

The judge told Shepherd that his actions were callous, reckless and spineless and that the sentence doesn't fit the crime.

"It's troubling. I had the chance to watch you during the trial and it's as if this case had nothing to do with the death of a woman. Your actions were callous, reckless and spineless," the judge said.

The trial for Raines and Boyer is scheduled to begin on Feb. 11. They face the same charges as Shepherd.

Police say Shepherd will be called to testify against them at their trial. Because he's already been sentenced, there will be no violation of the fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. There was no sentencing deal made for his testimony.