A Lehi man has been sentenced to a year in jail and given 18 months probation in the shooting death of a friend Oct. 23, 1986.
Phillip A. Cox, who recently completed a 90-day diagnostic examination, also was ordered to undergo mental therapy while in the county jail and to receive outpatient counseling upon his release.Cox pleaded guilty in December to manslaughter, a second-degree felony, in the death of Keith Dennis during a hunting trip in hills above Alpine.
Fourth District Judge Cullen Y. Christensen originally sentenced Cox to one to 15 years in the state prison, but suspended that sentence for the jail time. He also ordered Cox to pay an undetermined amount in restitution.
Christensen rejected a request by attorney Thomas Patton to have Cox undergo a mental evaluation and treatment at the Timpanogos Community Mental Health Center.
"I want the help and I need it, and I think (an) inpatient (program) would be the best way to go," Cox said.
Deputy County Attorney Kent Barry, however, said that "incarceration is very appropriate in this type of case."
The victim's grandfather, Junior Dennis, agreed that Cox needs mental help.
"But he should have thought of that before he pulled the trigger," he said. Dennis said his family has received threats from Cox, and he told Christensen he plans to do whatever he has to to protect his family from the defendant.
Dennis and his son, Michael B. Dennis - the victim's father - filed a $1 million wrongful-death suit against Cox in March. The suit charges Cox with "callous and reckless" use of a firearm.
In addition to $1 million in punitive damages, the suit asks for an undetermined amount for funeral expenses and pecuniary and general damages.