An electrician convicted in the mutilation murder of a Utah man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Steven J. Eribarne, 25, showed no emotion as the sentenced was announced Monday. He said he was following the lead of a friend when he took part in the Jan. 17, 1990, slaying of Fred W. Harris, 33, of Midvale.Eribarne testified he beat and strangled Harris in a wooded area after a drunken argument escalated into violence. But he said the friend, Nick Borka, cut off Harris' head and hands to prevent identification of his body.
Prosecutors said they will pursue murder charges against Borka based on incriminating testimony from Eri-barne.
Borka, 23, testified it was Eri-barne who beat Harris to death and decapitated him in a robbery attempt. Borka admitted he chopped off the victim's hands, but neither he nor Eribarne claimed responsibility for the fatal blow from an ax.
"Without knowing who really caused the death, we can assume they're both guilty of murder," said jury foreman Michael Chaney. "We convicted Joe Eribarne on the fact that he didn't try to help (Harris) and that he didn't try to get out of there."
Eribarne testified he was intoxicated and fearful of Borka and that he never intended to kill Harris when he choked him with a rope.
Borka, of Bay City, Mich., originally was charged with murder along with Eribarne, but charges were dropped because prosecutors said the most they could prove before trial was that Borka abused a corpse.