An Alaska man who pleaded guilty to murdering a West Valley man last August in a downtown motel will serve 18 months in jail and participate in an alcohol treatment program in lieu of a one-to-15-year prison term, a 3rd District Judge decided Monday.
Leonard Paul Nannauck, 29, Kake, Alaska, had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, a first-degree felony, in the beating death of Thomas Joseph Yellowhair, 38, West Valley City. However, in exchange for a guilty plea prosecutors recommended the charge to be lessened to manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
Judge Michael R. Murphy sentenced Nannauck to probation, which includes participation in an alcohol treatment at the Utah State Hospital and time in the Salt Lake County Jail. The probation was difficult to impose because of the murder charge, Murphy said before staying the prison sentence.
He said, however, the circumstances are similar to drunken driving cases that result in death. Murphy said that if any of the probation terms are violated Nannauck can expect to have the prison term imposed.
"Had I been sober then, none of this would have happened," Nannauck told the judge. "I will never drink again."
Yellowhair's body was found behind the Regis Hotel, 253 S. State, on Aug. 7, 1987. Nannauck was charged with beating and strangling Yellowhair and then hiring several people to dispose of the body.