A Utah inmate convicted of fatally shooting a Highway Patrol trooper during a high-speed chase in 1993 was granted parole and will be released from prison in 2020, about 27 years after he committed the crime.
Jason Scott Pearson was 18 in June 1993 when he led troopers on a chase down Interstate 70 in Emery County. Now 43, he recently told the parole board that he’s tried to better himself in prison and understands the repercussions of his actions.
He is scheduled to be released from prison March 17, 2020, the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole announced Friday. That date is contingent on Pearson completing residential substance abuse treatment, said Greg Johnson, with the board.
Pearson was convicted of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder, aggravated assault and failure to stop at the command of a police officer in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison.
He told the parole board during his July hearing that on that day in 1993, he “just wanted to get away.” In the process of doing that, he shot Trooper Dennis “Dee” Lund in the eye, killing him.
Pearson told the board he understands the short-sighted and selfish nature of what he did, and repeatedly called himself a “coward” during the hearing.
Johnson said the board considers “aggravating factors including the nature of the offenses and victim impact,” in addition to “mitigating factors of program or treatment completion, significant pro-social behavior after commitment to prison and his age at the time of the offense,” in deciding to grant parole.
Lund’s family members who attended the July hearing, including the trooper’s 87-year-old father, Rod Lund, said that day they didn’t want Pearson to be released because they feared he might hurt someone else.
Rod Lund said Saturday morning that he had hoped Pearson’s prison sentence would have been longer.
“I’m just going to accept what comes, I think,” Lund said. “He was a young boy then, he’s a man now. I’ll give him a chance.”
In prison, Pearson has held a job and earned a bachelor’s degree in business. He said he’s worked with counselors and has tried to better himself.
This was Pearson’s second parole attempt. His first petition was rejected in 1998.
George Todd Kennedy, then 16, was in the car with Pearson that day. The pair both fired at officers. Kennedy pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder and later testified against Pearson.
Kennedy was paroled in 2013.
Tribune reporter Jessica Miller contributed to this report.