Life sentence ordered for killing at Capitol Hill party

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3 2013 5:01 p.m. MDT

Kaleb Yazzie, 22, was killed July 31, 2012. Adam Karr is charged with stabbing him to death. his brother Ammon Karr has been sentenced to jail for obstructing justice in the case.

Family photo

SALT LAKE CITY — Adam Karr, who killed a man during a party at his Capitol Hill home, was ordered Tuesday to spend the rest of his life in prison.

"This is not anything that I look forward to today," Judge James T. Blanch said, before sentencing Karr, 27, to concurrent terms of 15 years to life for murder, a first-degree felony, and one to 15 years for obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.

The sentence came minutes after Karr had expressed remorse and apologized to the family of Kaleb Yazzie for the first time.

"If I could turn back time, I would have never even allowed this event to even occur," Karr said.

But Cynthia Lansing, Yazzie's mother, said she did not believe him.

"In my eyes he knew what he was doing" that night, she said after the hearing. "All he cares about is what happens to him."

On July 31, 2012, Yazzie, 22, went to a party at a home Karr shared with his brother Ammon Karr at 31 Girard Ave. Yazzie was asked to leave the party, but returned soon after to grab the liquor he brought, ultimately sparking a fight, according to witnesses.

Both Karrs felt that Yazzie's "obnoxious" conduct was disrespectful to them and their home. One witness testified that Yazzie said he wanted to fight Ammon Karr, after which Adam Karr grabbed a small knife and said he was going to "shank" Yazzie, before following him upstairs to the porch.

Adam Karr stabbed Yazzie several times in the chest. Stephen Thomason, who was staying at the Karr's, pulled Yazzie down the street to an alley, where he kicked him in the head and left him.

Police responded around 2 a.m. and found Yazzie, still alive. He died shortly after.

The judge said Adam Karr's behaviors before and after the killing indicated that it was not an act of self-defense. First, Karr indicated that he wanted to "shank" someone before grabbing the knife and heading upstairs to Yazzie's location.

Next, Karr did not seek medical attention after he stabbed Yazzie. Although everyone at the party shared the burden to get Yazzie medical help, Karr bore the brunt of it, he said.

"We have no way of knowing if Mr. Yazzie could have survived" had he received medical attention sooner, Blanch said, adding that in a legitimate act of self-defense, a person defending themselves would have called authorities.

Finally, Karr and his brother hid their clothes, the weapon and gave a false report to police.

Lansing and daughter Stephan-na Lovell read statements asking the judge to impose the harshest possible sentence.

"He doesn't deserve to be a part of society," Lovell said.

Men in the Yazzie family passed around tissues that were provided by a court officer as Lovell read her statement.

Karr has 30 days to appeal the sentence, something his attorney said they will be pursuing. Yazzie's family said they are not worried about an appeal and are ready to move on.

"We just are ready to heal and just be done with this," Lovell said.

Thomason, who was 17 at the time, pleaded no contest in juvenile court to manslaughter. He will be under state jurisdiction until he is 21 for his role in the death. Ammon Karr, 21, was sentenced to 195 days in jail and three years of probation for obstruction of justice.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com

Twitter: whitevs7

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