SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – A judge asked the courtroom to remain silent for twenty seconds – the amount of time it took for Jeffrey Shepherd to murder Matthew Holt on Easter Sunday. Holt’s family – who packed the courtroom in Salt Lake City – were heard sobbing as that twenty seconds passed.
Shepherd was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 15 years.
Holt was found murdered in his car in South Salt Lake on Easter Sunday. Jeffery Shepherd was charged with aggravated murder and other crimes related to the incident.
Shepherd’s defense attorney argued he was heavily under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crime. Still, Judge James T. Blanch said the crime was calculated and cold. Shepherd was seen wandering around the South Salt Lake area near the Jordan River Parkway at 8:30 Easter morning. Hours later, he approached Holt, who was parked near the trail and tried to rob him.
The state said Shepherd downloaded a police scanner app on his phone before the crime. Shepherd confronted Holt at random and tried to rob him, shooting him in the head at close range. The entire crime took 20 seconds.
Holt, who suffered from severe health problems his whole life and endured 35 surgeries, was senselessly killed that day, the judge said.
“This individual who feared death his entire life, and who beat the odds, had to experience terror and fear for that period of time before his life was taken from him,” the Judge told Shepherd, who stood before him shackled. “That was because of your actions.”
“Society deserves to be protected from you,” said Blanch.
Shepherd apologized to the family for his crime. “I am truly sorry for what happened and for all the pain and suffering I have caused everyone,” said Shepherd.
“That means a lot to us,” said Maxine Holt, the victim’s mother. “We are grateful that we have some accountability and some justice for Matthew, because he deserved it.”
Megan Oviatt, the victim’s best friend, told the court Matthew was “exceptional.”
“If you knew Matt, you loved Matt,” she said in an emotional statement.
After the sentencing, family members of Matthew Holt embraced and cried.