UTAH STATE PRISON — Jason Scott Pearson, who was 18 when he shot and killed a Utah Highway Patrol trooper 25 years ago during a high-speed chase, has been granted parole.
The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has announced that Pearson, now 43, will be released on March 17, 2020.
"The board considered aggravating factors including the nature of the offenses and victim impact. The board noted mitigating factors of program or treatment completion, significant pro-social behavior after commitment to prison and his age at the time of the offense," board spokesman Greg Johnson said in a prepared statement. "The parole date is contingent upon completing residential substance abuse treatment."
Pearson has been incarcerated since his arrest on June 16, 1993. On that day, he and another friend were running away from their home in Indiana to California. While in Utah, they stole gas. Soon, a UHP trooper had tracked them down and a high-speed chase ensued on I-70 near Green River, during which Pearson put his car on cruise control, had his passenger steer, and then hung out the window as he fired a .22-caliber rifle at the pursuing officers.
Trooper Dennis "Dee" Lund, 37, was shot and killed. Pearson was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to up to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The boy he was with, 16-year-old George Kennedy, was convicted of murder. He has since been paroled from prison.
During a parole hearing at the prison in July, Pearson expressed remorse for what he did.
"I was a coward and couldn't do the right thing or make the right decision," Pearson said, holding back tears near the end of the hearing. "I'm so sorry I was a coward that day."13 comments on this story
During that same hearing, Lund's family pleaded with the board to let Pearson serve his entire life sentence.
"As a family, we want the max for him. I hate to say that. He's probably making a lot of progress. But that doesn’t help my family make progress. We still suffer. I don’t say he should suffer. But we just want him to pay his maximum sentence like it's designed," Rodney Lund, the 87-year-old patriarch of the Lund family, said.
When Pearson is released, he will have served nearly 27 years in prison. Johnson said he could be placed on parole for life when released.