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Triggerman in 2011 Millcreek shooting sentenced to up to life in prison

First Published      Last Updated Jan 13 2014 07:33 pm

The triggerman in a 2011 Millcreek-area slaying has been sentenced to spend a minimum of nine years and up to life in prison for his role in the fatal shooting.

Peter Almanza, 29, admitted that he shot and killed Tommy Varner on Dec. 11, 2011, after he met up with Varner to sell him four ounces of methamphetamine, according to court documents.

Almanza was originally charged in 3rd District Court with first-degree felony murder, and felony counts of obstructing justice, distribution of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm by a restricted person.

In November, he pleaded guilty to a reduced count of manslaughter, as well as obstruction of justice and distribution of a controlled substance.

On Jan. 3, a judge sentenced Almanza to serve two to 20 years in prison for the manslaughter charge and six years to life in prison on the drug charge — punishments that were increased by dangerous weapon enhancements. Almanza also was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison on the obstruction charge. The sentences were ordered to run consecutively, meaning he will serve at least nine years before he is eligible for parole.

Almanza admits in court papers that he shot Varner after Varner attempted to take his gun. He also admitted to fabricating a story to hinder the police investigation.

Two other men also were charged in connection to Varner's death. Robert James Inmon, 44, and Brandon Butterfield, 34, went with Almanza to the Murray Ridge Apartments, 440 E. 4100 South, that day.

According to charging documents, Inmon pulled the 35-year-old Varner out of the vehicle after he was shot and left him under a covered parking stall, charges state. He was dead when emergency crews arrived.

Almanza, Inmon and Butterfield then drove to Intermountain Medical Center, where Almanza was treated for a gunshot wound.

Inmon and Butterfield were told to take the Lincoln Navigator and "clean it," according to charges. The men later told police they drove the Navigator to 5550 S. 235 East and abandoned it.

Butterfield and Inmon were each sentenced to one to 15 years in prison in November after they both pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and drug distribution charges.


Twitter: @jm_miller