Farmington • When Joseph Nance shot and killed his father on March 19, 2011, the act tore their family apart.
Nance’s sisters believe their brother acted in self-defense — snapping after suffering years of physical abuse at the hands of their father, 52-year-old Gregory Nance.
Other family members, including Gregory Nance’s brother and parents, think the 30-year-old Joseph Nance should have been convicted of murder.
“The family is split on what they should see happen,” said prosecutor Brandon Poll during Joseph Nance’s sentencing Monday morning.
Joseph Nance was originally charged in 2nd District Court with first-degree felony murder and being a restricted person in possession of a firearm, a third-degree felony, for shooting and killing his father two years ago at a Kaysville motel.
In April, however, Joseph Nance pleaded guilty to a reduced count of second-degree felony manslaughter and second-degree felony obstruction of justice.
Both prosecutors and Joseph Nance’s attorney, Todd Utzinger, agreed that a prison sentence was appropriate; however, Utzinger asked for concurrent sentences, while Poll asked that the two one-to-15 year terms be served consecutively.
Ultimately, Judge John Morris ordered Nance to spend up to 30 years in prison, siding with the state and running the sentences consecutively.
“Mr. Nance not only took a life, but he helped to complete the destruction of a family,” Morris said before handing down the sentence. “I hope, in the future, that can somehow be mended.”
Utzinger told the judge that Joseph Nance has been diagnosed with PTSD, a result of years of physical abuse as a child. Utzinger said Gregory Nance often abused his wife and children, and the children on several occasions witnessed their mother being sexually abused at the hands of their father.
“I don’t speak ill of the dead lightly, but it is an important fact here,” Utzinger said.
Charity Green, Joseph Nance’s sister, told the judge that years ago, she also wanted to kill her father. She asked the judge for a concurrent sentence, and blamed Joseph Nance’s substance abuse for the crime.
“I don’t know what happened in that hotel room,” she said through tears. “Truth is, only Daddy and Joe know. But what we do know is Daddy is gone, and Joe is waiting to hear his fate. ... I have forgiven my brother and I believe with all of my heart my Daddy forgives him too. ... Joe has never had the heart of a cold-blooded murderer. Had he been sober that night, things would be very different today.”
Joseph Nance spoke briefly in court before he was sentenced.
“I just want to say that I wish the circumstances were different,” he said. “And I wish I never did what I did. And I hope my family can forgive me sometime soon.”
The slaying occurred at the Far West Motel, 410 N. Main St.
Police have said the son confronted his father about a fight the older man had with Joseph Nance’s mother.
Nance had told police that he shot his father in self-defense, according to court documents.
“There was a domestic dispute between the suspect’s parents,” Kaysville police Capt. Brent Ward said at the time. “His mother and father were currently divorced, but they had been living together at a motel for the last month or two and had gotten into a domestic dispute.”
Police said that after Joseph Nance shot his father, he ran into a wooded area near the motel and was later picked up by some friends who did not know a shooting had occurred.
Officers found Nance hiding in a wooden bunker near Layton the next morning.
Poll said in court Monday that the plea deal was offered to Joseph Nance because prosecutors believe a jury would likely have found the man guilty of manslaughter, not murder, based on his mental health history and his self-defense claim.