Life without parole ordered for man who murdered retired BYU professor
AMERICAN FORK — The way Martin Bond told it, he isn't responsible for former BYU professor Kay Mortensen's death.
But he claimed he is the reason why Mortensen's son and daughter-in-law, Roger and Pamela, who had been kidnapped at the home, are still alive.
"If I really was the monster everyone thinks I am, then Roger and Pam wouldn't be sitting here today," Bond said in 4th District Court Tuesday. "I was in a bad situation and I did the best I could to save two lives. That doesn't excuse my being there. It was a horrible tragedy that shouldn't have occurred."
But Roger and Pam Mortensen didn't buy his story — and neither did the judge.
Originally facing the possibility of the death penalty, an agreement just before Bond's trial in January made life without the possibility of parole the only possible sentence if the man was convicted. Judge Thomas Low implemented that sentence Tuesday, despite Bond's request to instead consider a sentence 25 years to life.
"The life that you took was a good one," Low told Bond. "(Mortensen) spent his life making the world a better place. … When his life was taken, many others began to suffer as well."
Bond and Benjamin Rettig, both of Vernal, murdered Kay Mortensen at his Payson home during a robbery on Nov. 16, 2009. Bond's father was a friend of Mortensen and Bond knew Mortensen had a large collection of guns.
He apparently told Rettig about the firearms and they drove to Mortensen's home. Prosecutors said Mortensen recognized Bond and let the men inside, where they held him at gunpoint and slit his throat.
Both Rettig and Bond have pointed to the other as the one who actually killed Mortensen.
"Pam and I know that you were the leader," Roger Mortensen said in court. "It was you who orchestrated this entire ordeal. You knew where (Kay Mortensen) lived. You drove your car there. He opened the door because of his relationship with you."
He chastised Bond — who had been in the military, gone to college and had custody of a young son — for throwing his life away. He also described the damage Bond inflicted on him and his wife, who were initially arrested and charged with Kay Mortensen's murder.
"Our relationships with family and many friends were destroyed," Roger Mortensen said. "Our reputations were ruined while you watched it happen and even bragged about it."
Those charges were later dropped after Bond and Rettig were arrested.
Kay Mortensen's widow, Darla, said Bond's ex-wife — who contacted police when she realized Roger and Pam Mortensen were still in jail awaiting trial — is the hero in the case.
"If she hadn't had the courage to come forward, I don't know where Roger and Pam would be today," Darla Mortensen said. "I'm just grateful this has ended."
She said she doesn't believe Bond's apology and feels that he has shown little remorse. She and her husband had many plans for their "golden years" and said he was healthy and happy when his life was taken.
"He loved life and we were having such a great time, but Mr. Bond destroyed our dreams," she said. "Now I'm alone trying to rebuild my life."
Fern May, Kay Mortensen's sister, called her brother's death a "senseless, stupid act of brutality" for which life without parole was "too lenient" a consequence. It was an opinion she believed her brother, a death penalty proponent, would have agreed with.
"(Bond and Rettig) took the life of a man who wanted to live, who loved his life and loved his wife," May said. "Bond will never again be able to breathe or feel sunshine on his face as a free man, but at least he's alive."
Bond asked Low to consider a sentence that would one day give him the option of parole.
"This is the first time I've ever been in trouble," he said. "I always thought corrections were for rehabilitation and second chances."
"I'm going to confirm the sentence you've already agreed to," the judge responded, before sentencing Bond to two terms of life without the possibility of parole for aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping, first degree felonies.
Those sentences will run concurrent with two terms of five years to life in prison for aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies, but consecutive to two terms of 15 years to life in prison for two counts of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, on behalf of Roger and Pamela Mortensen. He ordered six $10,000 fines and ordered Bond to split the restitution of $10,671 with Rettig.
"Fair enough, your honor," Bond said when the sentence was pronounced.
Rettig previously pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping, both first-degree felonies. He was sentenced to concurrent sentences of 25 years to life and 15 years to life, respectively, ordered to pay two $10,000 fines.
"We are grateful to be at the end of this long and painful ordeal," Pamela Mortensen said after the hearing. "We will miss Kay until we see him in the next life."
Defense attorney Rudy Bautista said Bond will file an appeal.
Prosecutor Tim Taylor said the sentencing hearing was another "checkpoint" in the Mortensen family's healing process. He was interrupted by angry friends and family of Roger and Pamela Mortensen who questioned why charges were once brought against the couple.
"Obviously more healing needs to go on," Taylor said.
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