SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Two years behind bars can straighten someone’s life.
That’s what Jace Zeeman claimed during a recent parole hearing.
In 2019, he was sentenced to prison for causing the death of his step-father during a fight.
“It was an incident that just escalated quick,” Zeeman said during his parole hearing. “It happened fast.”
In 2017, American Fork police received a 911 call. A man had been brutally beaten and was hanging on to his life.
For more than a month, Brandon Burgeois was on life support before he died.
Burgeois was a popular youth football coach in American Fork.
His friend, David Gaisford said in 2017, “I certainly would count Brandon as one of my closest friends.”
Gaisford helped Burgeois coach the young boys.
“He was a great member of the community in American Fork and he’s going to be sorely missed,” Gaisford said.
Police arrested Zeeman, Burgeois’ stepson who was charged with homicide by assault, a first degree felony.
Two years later, he pleaded guilty. In exchange for the guilty plea, the charge was reduced to a third-degree felony. He was ordered to serve up to five-years in prison.
Following his arrest for the homicide, Zeeman’s life was out of control. He was charged multiple times for domestic violence, DUI, and illegally killing wildlife. He also pleaded guilty to those charges and the sentences for those crimes were to run consecutive to the homicide charge.
In April, Zeeman was eligible for parole and appeared before a hearing officer with the Utah board of pardons. He said he was trying to defend his mother when it got out of control.
“I hit him and I was really shocked,” Zeeman said. “I turned around and fought. I didn’t want to be in a fight.”
Zeeman claimed he and his stepfather had argued in the past, but they were settled before it got out of hand. Not this time.
“Instead of doing what I figured might be the worst thing to do, which is continuing to punch each other, I put him in a headlock and that was my biggest regret,” Zeeman said.
He apologized for his actions. During his time in prison, Zeeman participated in education and behavior programs. The board of pardons noted his record and approved his parole. He is scheduled to be released in June.