Russell M. Anderson, Bountiful, had been sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life in the Utah State Prison for the shooting deaths of a South Salt Lake couple last July.
Third District Judge Leonard H. Russon handed down the sentence following a full day of testimony on the mental state of Anderson, who had entered pleas of guilty but mentally ill in April to charges he murdered Norman B. and Janet Marie Armstrong.Russon further recommended that the prison terms extend to life without parole.
Anderson, 35, sat quietly throughout the proceeding while defense and prosecuting attorneys argued about where he should serve sentence for the crimes. Prior to the reading of the sentence, he briefly addressed the court.
"The main thing I want to say right now is that I feel sorry for the families," he said. "I want them to know what happened, and I hope they can forgive me."
During this week's hearing, defense attorney James Bradshaw told the judge that Anderson should be sent to the Utah State Hospital because the killer suffers from a mental illness.
Prosecutor Howard Lemcke, however, argued that prison is more appropriate.
"This is not a hearing to determine what the proper treatment is," Lemcke told Russon, "but (to determine) what the proper sentencing would be for the taking of human life.
"(The Armstrongs') names have not been mentioned often but they are two people who are no longer with us because of Mr. Anderson."
Defense attorneys called two psychiatrists to testify that Anderson suffers from mental illness that could be better treated at the state hospital in Prove.
Anderson's attorneys hinged their arguments on the opinion of Dr. Stephen Golding, a University of Utah psychology professor who testified that his evaluations of Anderson had shown him to have an IQ of less than 70, with a mental age roughly equivalent to a 10-year-old child.
Golding said he felt Anderson would be an easy mark in prison because the killer suffers from personality disorders and would constitute a danger to himself and others in that type of setting.
"He needs a closely supervised environment where he can get structured social skill training and treatment for his drug abuse," said Golding. "His treatment needs can-not be met in prison."
But three Utah State Hospital authorities testified that despite his confirmed mental retardation, Anderson would not be a good candidate for the state hospital and could be adequately treated at the prison.
Much of the testimony concerned a state statute that interprets the degree of mental handicap warranting commitment to the state hospital instead of prison.
"The hospital is for treating mental illness, not retardation, an I have never felt that he is mentally ill," said Dr. Van O. Austin, forensic psychiatrist at the state hospital. "He is not a appropriate candidate to be placed there."
The Armstrongs' bodies were found July 22, 1987, near the I-80 overpass at 60th West. Both had been shot several times with a .22 caliber pistol.
It was later determined that the same gun was used in the Augest 1987 killing of Frank R. Boulton, whose body was found in a Bountiful church parking lot. Sentencing in the third slaying is scheduled for June 21 in 2nd District Court, Farmington.
Anderson was acquainted with the Armstrongs and Boulton, whom police have said were also mentally handicapped.