ST GEORGE, Utah -- A Washington City man will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading no contest to the shooting death of his wife and stepson three years ago.
On Tuesday, Richard Andrew Jones appeared in the 5th District Court. Judge Eric Ludlow gave Jones two consecutive life sentences, without the possibility of parole.
“Mr. Jones, you will die as an inmate at the Utah State Prison,” Judge Ludlow told Jones at sentencing.
Defense attorney Stephen McCaughey said it’s the sentence they expected, even though Jones still affirms he has no recollection of the incident.
In September, Jones pleaded no contest to the 2011 murder of his wife, Michelle and 19-year-old stepson, Owen Christopher Ellis.
Prosecutors say Jones shot his stepson while he was in bed, then killed Michelle in the driveway of their home.
Jones then turned the gun on himself, but survived.
“I think it’s been pretty well proven that he has no memory of what happened,” McCaughey said. “That doesn’t excuse his conduct, but I truly believe he does not remember.”
Jones addressed the family publicly and asked for forgiveness. He reiterated he did not believe he was there, but was willing to take responsibility.
“If I am responsible, I am truly sorry,” Jones said.
After the shootings, Jones spent weeks in a Las Vegas hospital recovering from his self-inflicted gunshot wound. Owen Christopher Ellis’ biological father, also Christopher Ellis, is a nurse.
Christopher Ellis understands how Jones could have ended up with retrograde amnesia but said at some point, Jones knew what he was doing.
“He may not remember, but I think initially, he remembered,” Christopher Ellis said. “I was told there were some statements made, that he remembers he did it, he was just confused about where it occurred.”
Family members of Owen Christopher Ellis and Michelle Jones addressed the court as part of the sentencing. They say they weren’t there to enact vengeance, but it’s also going to be difficult to forgive.
“He stood over the top of (Owen) Christopher, face up, and emptied that gun,” said Michelle’s mother, Cheryl Wahlgren. “Then he went after Michelle, and he looked into her eyes and shot her more.”
Jones’ biological son, Dylan Jones, also attended the sentencing and spoke on Jones’ behalf.
Dylan said he believed through classes, Jones could get a handle on the depression they believe led to the crime.