Consecutive prison sentences for man in Ogden drug deal shootings – Standard-Examiner

BEN DORGER, Standard-Examiner file photo

The 2nd District Court is seen on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in downtown Ogden.

The 2nd District Court is seen on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in downtown Ogden.
OGDEN — Caleb Skipps was making $1,300 every three days by selling marijuana “dabs” and had a motive to protect his profits, a prosecutor said Monday at Skipps’ sentencing for shooting two men, one fatally.
“He picked drugs over people’s lives,” said Branden Miles of the Weber County Attorney’s Office.
Second District Judge Camille Neider sentenced Skipps, 21, of Pleasant View, to 10 years to life in prison for attempted aggravated murder and one to 15 years for manslaughter. She ordered the terms to be served consecutively, to give the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole “as much hold on you as possible.”
“When you take a gun to a drug deal, chances are somebody might get killed,” Neider told Skipps, estimating he probably won’t get out of prison until he’s in his 40s.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 9, 2020, in an Ogden church parking lot, Skipps met two men for a drug deal. Skipps told police he was the buyer, but Miles said in court Monday that Skipps was a busy dealer of “dabs,” a concentrated form of marijuana.
Photo supplied, Weber County Jail

Skipps

Skipps
Skipps shot Isaac Gonzelaz, 21, of North Ogden, through the heart, Miles said, and the second victim was seriously injured by bullet wounds to his chest and arm. Neither victim was armed, but Skipps said they tried to rob him.
Miles said Skipps “does not get to claim self-defense.” That’s because the shootings resulted from “his motive to keep $400 worth of dabs from being stolen from him. He was not about to let that happen. That’s how he pays his bills.”
Defense attorney Emily Swenson asked Neider to set the prison terms to run concurrently. She cited Skipps’ young age at the time, 19, and said he had no previous criminal history. She added that Skipps “did legitimately fear for his life” during the drug meeting.
A Gonzalez family representative read to the court a letter from Gonzalez’s mother, Jessica Gonzalez. She said the grief, sadness and stress of her son’s death “has taken control of my life. I have a hole in my heart.”
Jessica Gonzalez said her son’s daughter’s birthday was just a few days away when he was killed. “We had to decide whether to have his funeral or her fifth birthday party first,” she said.
She urged the judge to impose maximum punishment, saying the thought that Skipps might serve only a few years in prison “makes me sick to my stomach.”
A county attorney’s representative read to the court letters from Savannah Gomez, mother of the victim’s daughter, now 7, and Gonzalez’s sister, who is now 16.
“I will never forget the confusion on her face when I told (Gonzalez’s daughter) that her father was in heaven,” Gomez’s letter said. “There is not a long enough prison sentence to make up for the life that was taken from us.”
Before she imposed sentence, Neider asked Skipps if he wanted to say anything.
“I’m truly sorry about my actions,” Skipps said. “I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes and caused the death of someone who was somewhat of a friend to me as well. I hope one day the family can come to forgive me for what I have done.”
Neider said the fact that both Skipps and Gonzalez were young fathers stood out to her. “Two children are basically losing their fathers,” she said, telling Skipps that his son probably will be an adult by the time he gets out of prison.
She said Skipps did not make one bad choice, he made a series of them, including dropping out of high school and using and dealing illegal drugs. And she said Skipps getting someone to dispose of the gun for him and then lying to police about the shootings “doesn’t help you one bit.”
The judge said she hates to send young people to prison, but she doesn’t flinch from it when it is necessary. “The bottom line is you deserve it (consecutive sentences) and the victims’ families are entitled to have that measure of justice extracted from you.”
Skipps originally was charged with first-degree felony aggravated murder, the attempted murder charge, second-degree felony obstructing justice and two firearms charges. Prosecutors agreed in a January plea bargain to drop the obstruction and gun charges.
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