- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - The third defendant convicted of killing a Eugene man has been sentenced to life in prison.

A.J. Scott Nelson was sentenced Thursday after a Lane County jury had previously rejected the death penalty, The Register-Guard reported (https://is.gd/R8fv0U). Nelson was convicted in the killing of 22-year-old Celestino Gutierrez Jr.

Nelson was one of three people convicted in the death.

David Ray Taylor is on death row while Mercedes Crabtree serves a life sentence in prison. Crabtree will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years.

Gutierrez was kidnapped and killed so the three men could use his car in a bank robbery, prosecutors said. According to court documents, after the trio’s car broke down Gutierrez gave Crabtree a ride to Taylor’s nearby home. There, Nelson tied up Gutierrez, attacked him with an arrow and choked him.

Nelson’s attorney had previously asked a judge to rule out the death penalty for her client, arguing that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury from his time in the Army.

Nelson declined to make any statement in court. He told jurors last month in an unsworn statement that he regrets his actions but had not wanted to take part in a murder.

Gutierrez’s mother spoke at Thursday’s sentencing, saying the jury made a mistake by not sentencing Nelson to death. Rose Gutierrez said she thinks Nelson is worse that Taylor and that she worries he will victimize others in prison.

“I hope that when you go to prison, all those awful stories I hear about, they happen to you,” she said.

Lane County Circuit Judge Debra Vogt at the sentencing expressed disappointment in the narrative Nelson had woven over the course of the trial.

“Mr. Nelson, you are not the victim here,” Vogt said Thursday. “Celestino Gutierrez is the victim here. I think, somehow, you have lost sight of that. I don’t know how. But that is the impression you have left. It couldn’t be farther from the truth.”


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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