King pled guilty to two counts of attempted criminal homicide, aggravated murder Nov. 23 in Fifth District Court. A charge of aggravated burglary was dropped.
Deputy Iron County Attorney Troy Little said King woke up that night, selected a hammer as a weapon, drove to the victims’ residence, drove around the block to work up the courage, tried windows and doors until he found an unlocked window, and took off his pants to reduce noise.
“I think it is very clear what Mr. King’s intent was that night,” Little said.
It is a miracle the victims survived and because of the gravity of the crime, he recommended consecutive instead of concurrent sentences, he said.
King’s attorney J. Bryan Jackson said that King felt very bad about what happened and doesn’t understand it. He would want whatever sentence the victims and their families would prefer, Jackson said.
He asked Judge G. Michael Westfall to sentence King to concurrent sentences, so he would get out a little earlier and be able to start working on paying the substantial restitution ordered. He said the restitution is a small way for King to try to make things right with the families.
“He’s wanting to embrace that responsibility,” Jackson said.
Todd Logan Bryson, one of King’s victims, said nothing would ever take away the images and sounds of that night that are burned in his memory, and the talk of monetary restitution was offensive to him. He wanted King to sit in a jail cell the rest of his life, he said.
Bryson’s father, George Bryson, said he recognized the pain and anguish all the families involved have gone through, and he didn’t desire punishment, but rather a certainty that something like this would never happen again.
King’s other victim, Daniel Shokrian, said he wanted the past two years of his life back, along with his vision and the parts of his brain he is now missing, but none of that is possible. All he could ask for was that King did not get a chance to hurt anyone else.
Dr. Nancy Cohn, a forensic psychologist, testified at the sentencing. She said she had done a psychological evaluation on King at the request of the Iron County Attorney’s Office.
The defense had also had a psychological evaluation done by another doctor, who believed there were some mitigating factors, including sleepwalking.
Cohn said she did not believe the attack was an isolated incident of sleepwalking. She believed King was a troubled young man with a long history of being an angry person. He had been teased his whole life and was under a lot of stress before the incident. He had not been sleeping well, and told many people about awaking in a “rage state,” Cohn said.
She said he woke up wanting someone to hurt the way he was hurting. King needs anger management treatment, but he also needs longer-term intensive psychotherapy to fix the underlying issues, she said.
King spoke at the sentencing and said he wanted to let the families know how sorry he was. He said he would work the rest of his life if necessary to make sure they were paid back financially and he wanted to do whatever necessary to make sure they felt safe. He didn’t want to ever hurt anyone again, he said.
King’s mother, Keirsten King, spoke at the sentencing and said there were no words to describe the heartache she felt for the victims and their families, and was so grateful that they had done as well as they had. She said she loved her son and prayed that whatever was broken in him could be fixed.
King’s grandfather Jerome Gourley echoed his daughter’s words and said there were no winners in the case. He said the family commits to help pay the restitution and to work to find out what triggered the event and get King help.
The restitution ordered is substantial, with $40,000 owed to Shokrian’s family for out-of-pocket medical expenses, $900 owed a month to Shokrian until he no longer needs medical treatment, and another $160,000 owed between Bryson and the Utah Office of Crime Victim Reparations.
Westfall said he probably knew more about King’s case than any other he had pronounced sentencing on. He had watched the five-hour police interview with King, read two psychological reports and reviewed a large number of letters from both sides of the case, he said.
He recommended King receive credit for the nearly two years served, and told him to take advantage of any treatment available to him.