Albert Lynn Atkins was a cop. And cops have always talked about the mistakes criminals make that trip them up.
But when Atkins, 35, decided to commit murder, he nonetheless made some obvious mistakes."It sounds like it was not very well done," said Board of Pardons Chairwoman Victoria Palacios.
Not that Atkins didn't try his best to cover up his crime. He wrapped the body in a garbage bag and sleeping bag, buried it in a deep hole beneath a crawl space in the victim's residence, filled the hole in with 300 pounds of kitty litter and then put a layer of concrete over his handiwork.
For that the Board of Pardons ordered Atkins to serve 12 more years before they will hold another hearing to determine a parole date.
"Why should you serve less than the 15 year maximum?" queried Palacios.
"I don't know, to tell you the truth," Atkins said. "One side of me says I'd like to be free, and then the other side looks at what I did. That side says I should do 15 years and then some."
Atkins pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of his best friend, and a judge sentenced him to serve 1-to-15 years in prison.
According to evidence presented at the hearing, Atkins had been forging checks on his friend's account in order to get money to bring his family to Utah from Virginia. Afraid he had been discovered on the forgeries, he shot his friend twice in the back and a third time in the head at point-blank range.
"I'm still not certain as to the reason why I did it," Atkins told the board. "I've never done anything to hurt anybody in my life. I still haven't come to grips with it real well. And my children have to live with the fact their daddy killed Uncle Earl."
Atkins served as a police officer and a deputy sheriff in Virginia before coming to Utah to work as a corrections officer. He was on a list to be rehired at the Utah State Prison at the time of the crime.