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Utah inmate gets at least 20 more years for killing cellmate

Published April 19, 2013 3:27 pm

Crime • Pardons board sets rehearing date of 2025 for Jacob Paul Ecker.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A man who killed his cell mate at the Utah State Prison in 2011 will serve at least an additional 20 years for the crime.

The Utah Board of Pardons set a rehearing date of March 2025 for Jacob Paul Ecker, who was initially sent to prison in 2010 to serve up to five years after he threatened to harm a man at the Salt Lake City Main Library. Ecker had a hatchet in a backpack at the time, according to court documents.

At the prison, he and Alfonso Lopez, a friend, asked to be bunked together. Lopez, 27, was serving a sentence of up to 15 years for aggravated robbery and failure to respond to a police officer.

Ecker, who according to court testimony had mental health issues, apparently got irritated with Lopez and "let loose" on him on April 27, 2011. Lopez suffered a collapsed lung and lacerated liver and heart as a result of the beating and died of "massive internal bleeding," according to court documents.

Ecker, 25, pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony manslaughter charge. At a sentencing hearing in January, Ecker said he regretted his actions.

"I deal with pain every day knowing I killed one of my friends," he told 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris.

Kouris sentenced Ecker to a prison term of five years to life.

The pardons board said its reconsideration of his hearing date will depend on his completing substance abuse and anger management programs and remaining free of any disciplinary violations.

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