WEST JORDAN — Parley Jeffs Dutson, who shot and killed his 15-year-old girlfriend at a party two years ago, was sentenced to prison Wednesday.
Dutson, who is now 21, tearfully apologized to Patricia Hopkins, the mother of the deceased girl, Kara, as well as the court and the taxpayers who have footed the bill for a four-day trial, lengthy criminal proceedings and the 945 days Dutson already has spent in jail.
"I'd like to give my life to bring Kara back," he said, wiping tears from his eyes.
Third District Judge Royal Hansen sentenced Dutson to 15 years to life for murder, a first-degree felony.
"One of the tragedies of this case is we can do nothing to restore the life of Kara Hopkins," the judge said.
Meanwhile, Patricia Hopkins struggled to contain her emotions as she grappled with grief over her slain daughter and the clearly mixed feelings she has for Dutson, a family friend, who took Kara's life.
"The world is missing a wonderful girl — she was beautiful and smart," the mother said as she clutched a framed photograph of her daughter.
Patricia Hopkins said she knew Dutson would never intentionally hurt Kara, but the drugs he took the night he fired a gun at the girl were no excuse for killing her.
"We know he loved her, and we loved him," Patricia Hopkins said. "This has been very hard."
She asked Hansen if she could remove the photo from the frame and give it to Dutson. For security reasons, that was not possible in the courtroom, the judge replied, but the photo could be transferred to Dutson later through his lawyers.
Dutson was 18 when he got high on alcohol, marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms on April 7, 2007. At a party that night at his place in the Willow Cove Apartments near 9300 S. Redwood Road in West Jordan, Dutson insisted that Kara Hopkins have sex with him in the presence of other party-goers.
When she refused, he repeatedly pointed a gun at her as she tried to duck and weave away from him. Dutson shot her in the back of the head, and witnesses said he was chanting as he knelt next to her nearly nude body.
Defense attorneys said Dutson had the gun for protection from another male he feared, and Dutson was so high on drugs that he was experiencing a "hallucinatory paranoid and irrational" level of fear and did not intend to kill the girl.
However, prosecutors insisted Dutson simply flew into a rage when the girl would not have sex on demand.
A jury in 2008 convicted Dutson of murder and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies, after a four-day trial. However, the judge later overturned the verdict after it was revealed that a female juror had been raped as a teen but had failed to disclose that during jury selection.
Dutson was set to have a new trial, but a plea bargain resulted in him pleading guilty to the murder charge while the sexual assault charge was dropped.