James William Tolbert III
who murdered his wife, a popular high school teacher - has received an indeterminate life sentence in Utah State Prison.
Tolbert, whom a 3rd District Court jury found guilty last October of second-degree murder, appeared for sentencing Monday before Judge Raymond Uno.Defense attorney Andrew Valdez asked Uno to sentence Tolbert on a lesser charge, but the judge sided with Salt Lake County deputy attorney Rick MacDougall, who said the nature of the crime warrants the full penalty.
Tolbert, 22, told Uno he is sorry for the crime and the hurt it has caused the family and friends of Janie Heller-Tolbert, 26. The defendant said he is willing to pay his debt to society.
Heller-Tolbert's body was found May 5, 1987, concealed in debris near the Jordan River. Tolbert testified he strangled his wife during an argument that morning. The couple, who had an infant, were getting a divorce.
Heller-Tolbert taught special education at West High and was a drill team adviser. Tolbert, an honor student and basketball star, met her in his junior year. They were married in February 1986.
In addition to the prison time, Uno ordered Tolbert to pay a $6,250 fine. The judge agreed to ask that Tolbert be housed in the Young Adult Facility and be given credit for time served in the Salt Lake County Jail.