ROCK SPRINGS — A Utah man convicted of fatally stabbing a woman at the Quality Inn in Rock Springs and injuring another was sentenced Tuesday and received two concurrent life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Bradley Ross Fairbourn, 20, of Draper, Utah, was found guilty Feb. 14 of the June 2016 first-degree murder of Naisha Rae Story and the first-degree attempted murder of Linda Natalia Arce.
Prior to sentencing, Sweetwater County 3rd District Court Judge Richard Lavery said this is a tragedy that is not understandable in any way but was convinced Fairbourn killed Story and wanted to kill Arce — and the jury answered with its conviction. Lavery called the crime “so visceral and cold” and noted how savagely the defendant terrorized the victims. He said he was not sure Fairbourn was in control of his savage side or if it was controlling him.
“There is reason to fear you,” Lavery said. “I would love to show mercy to you … but sir, you scare me.”
Lavery added there is a real fear Fairbourn could commit a similar crime.
The judge said he was “touched” by the way the victim’s and defendant’s families handled each other throughout the trial. He said it was a tribute to their character and decency. He hoped they will be able to find peace beyond the day that Lavery characterized as filled with “only sadness.”
In addition to the concurrent life sentences, Fairbourn was given credit for 692 days served and was ordered to pay $19,814.88 in restitution as well as $295 in court fees. A $20,000 public defender fee was waived.
Fairbourn continued throughout Tuesday’s sentencing to say he is innocent of the crimes. He went so far as to ask at the beginning of the hearing to be excused from the proceedings, saying he was afraid he would have a panic attack and cause a disturbance.
“I don’t want to sit here and listen to this,” he said, adding he felt he shouldn’t have to be present when “the answer is already settled.” He said he was unwilling to hear “personal attacks on an innocent man.”
Lavery said he thought it would be more beneficial for Fairbourn to take part in his sentencing, adding he had a hard time thinking Fairbourn was “on the edge.” When Fairbourn said he couldn’t deal with it, Lavery countered, “You’ve been dealing with this for a long time.”
Sweetwater County Attorney Daniel Erramouspe said Fairbourn should not get the choice. Then Fairbourn cursed at Erramouspe, causing the court officers to move closer to the defendant.
Lavery asked Fairbourn if he was sure he understands he is making a personal choice to not be present at his own sentencing. Lavery read off the charges for which the defendant was convicted and the penalties for each. Moving into this portion of the sentencing phase seemed to calm Fairbourn, and the sentencing proceeded calmly from there.
Erramouspe brought one witness to the stand. Lt. Crystal Lopez of the Sweetwater County Detention Center said Fairbourn had been on administrative segregation based on his behavior. She ticked off some of his infractions, including assaulting another inmate and a deputy.
“He doesn’t like to follow the rules,” she said.
Parents of Story and Fairbourn, along with a written statement from the surviving victim, were heard by the court on Tuesday.
Arce’s letter was read to the court by Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Thybo. She wrote about the financial burden she and her fiancé have been under since the attack and her inability to find work due to her injuries. She asked the court to impose a life sentence.
“Nobody should have to go thorough anything like this,” she wrote. “We didn’t ask for anything like this.”
Diane and Lance Story, parents of Naisha Story, said this tragedy has been hard on their family, and a day does not go by without a thought about their only daughter. Diane Story said she was puzzled that someone, a stranger, could commit such a crime.
She thanked those responders who helped her daughter. She also said she was thankful for justice and a just judge, trusting that he will make the appropriate sentence.
Then she focused her comments at Fairbourn.
“No one wins in this, Bradley, only loss and moving forward,” she said, adding that Fairbourn has been given a grace that he is not facing the death penalty. “If you carry this denial with you, you will one day meet your maker and it is there you will have to answer for this.”
Diane Story said she has no anger for Fairbourn or his family. However, she said she and her family will feel safe as long as he is behind bars.
“He has no remorse. My concern is for those in the prison,” she said.
Fairbourn’s mother and father described their adopted son as a person with a sensitive heart, a good example of service and empathetic to other’s dilemmas. His father, Craig Fairbourn, said his son even went so far as to ask his family to put money in another inmate’s account so he could call home.
“I want the court to know I love my son. He has been the center of our activity planning,” he said. “I find a hole now in that planning.”
His mother said her son struggled with depression and anxiety throughout his life but was learning coping skills. She said it was “a privilege” to be Fairbourn’s mother.
Erramouspe prior to sentencing said it would be appropriate for the court to impose two life sentences to run consecutively, making note of the two victims.
“I can’t help but think this conviction is saving future lives,” he said. “The only thing that matters is that he does not get out again.”
Erramouspe said Fairbourn set up the meeting with Story and Arce, indicating premeditation.
Erramouspe read a statement made by Fairbourn that was downloaded from the defendant’s cellphone. The lengthy statement included the comment, “I don’t care about being good, fair or honorable.”
Defense attorney Valerie Schoneberger noted Fairbourn’s consistent denial of his involvement in the crime. She asked the court to consider his young age at the time of the attack — 18 — and that this be weighed along with other factors, including his lack of maturity and impulsiveness, his “debilitating mental illness,” and his potential for rehabilitation.
Defense attorney Rob Oldham said he has “lingering doubt” about Fairbourn’s part in the crime and asked the court to consider what the proper sentence would be.
“Where has society come to when we give up on someone so young?” he asked. “It is in your power, judge, to show mercy. ... Is he the type of person we have no hope for?”
He asked the court to consider a sentence of life with the possibility of parole.
Erramouspe countered, saying Fairbourn is an adult and not a juvenile, and should be held accountable.
“It’s sad we’re here … he killed a person, a stranger. He tried to kill another person,” he said. “There’s no fixing that.”