Before he was sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence for killing a Magna woman in her home in 2016, Jason Alan Black said on Tuesday that words could not express how sorry he was.
But as the 26-year-old defendant stood in a Salt Lake City courtroom, his hands and feet shackled, he said he needed to say he was sorry.
To 24-year-old Natalia Casagrande’s parents, he was sorry that he took their daughter.
To Casagrande’s sister, he was sorry he took her best friend.
And to Casagrande’s husband, Steven Arceo, he said he was sorry he took his wife.
It was then that Arceo, seated in the front row of the courtroom gallery, yelled at the defendant, “F--k you!”
The husband stood and asked if Black was sorry when he shot and killed Casagrande on May 31, 2016.
“Were you sorry when you beat her?” Arceo asked as bailiffs led him from the courtroom.
Before leaving the room, Arceo hurled another expletive towards Black, as his wife’s family and friends wept in the courtroom gallery.
Black reacted little, pausing during the husband’s outburst before continuing with an apology to Casagrande’s two children.
“I will live with the shame and regret of my actions for the rest of my life,” Black said.
Black pleaded guilty last October to first-degree felony aggravated murder and other charges, admitting he shot and killed Casagrande, then tried to smother the woman’s 5-year-old daughter with a pillow. After the killing, he left the home with marijuana, guns and cash.
On Tuesday, 3rd District Judge Adam Mow sentenced Black to spend up to the rest of his life in prison for his crimes: a 25-year-to-life term for aggravated murder and three five-to-life terms for first-degree felonies attempted aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery. Additionally, he will serve a one-to-15 year prison sentence for second-degree felony obstructing justice.
Mow ordered the prison sentences to run consecutive with one another, with the exception of the aggravated burglary sentence, which will run concurrent.
“You’ve ruined many lives through the actions that you’ve taken,” the judge told Black, noting he was ordering nearly the maximum sentence possible under the law.
Black had initially faced the possibility of the death penalty, but prosecutors agreed not to seek his execution in exchange for his pleas.
Casagrande’s family on Tuesday asked for the maximum penalty for Black, saying he stole from them a young mother who deeply loved her children. They’re heartbroken, they told Mow in tearful statements read aloud in court, and life hasn’t been the same without her.
Stephanie Sanchez, Casagrande’s sister, told the judge that Black’s crimes have had a lasting effect on her niece, who will never forget that day when her mother was killed and a man held a pillow to her face.
“She can’t even hear fireworks now because she remembers the day that her mother go shot in the head,” Sanchez said. “… She’s traumatized for life from what he did.”
Defense attorney Mike Peterson said Black was a regular visitor to Casagrande’s home, near 7700 W. 3700 South, where the woman and her husband sold him small amounts of marijuana.
The day of the shooting, Peterson said, was a routine visit to the home that somehow escalated into a “full-blown argument that was at a personal level.”
Peterson noted that his client later wrote in a statement that he didn’t know what about the argument caused him to snap.
“I don’t know what triggered me so severely,” Black wrote. “I don’t know why I snapped. I don’t know why I lost it. I wish I knew some of those things.”
In asking for leniency, Peterson noted that his client had witnessed domestic violence as a child from his father. He also noted that Black had nothing more than a DUI on his criminal record before he killed Casagrande.
And Black’s family and friends have all noted that the man was always caring and loved children — it was impossible for them to fathom that he could be so violent.
“It’s just so unusual,” Peterson said. “… How is this remotely possible? This is like a bolt of lightning out of the blue. It just does not add up.”
Before her death, Casagrande had been texting her husband about what marijuana to give Black when the texting conversation abruptly stopped, according to charges. Arceo rushed home to find his wife dead in a pool of blood in the basement of the home.
Prosecutors on Tuesday said the woman had been shot in the head, strangled, beaten and cut with a knife or glass.
Black was arrested two days after the killing, following a gun battle that erupted between the suspect and police officers who had come to a West Jordan home owned by Black’s family to serve a search warrant. The defendant was injured by police bullets, according to sheriff’s office officials, but the officers were not hurt.