PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – Christopher Poulson says he was not in his right mind when he murdered a mother and her son.
But Poulson who was sentenced for their deaths offered no motive as to why he did it.
“I’m sorry and I was not in my right mind when this occurred,” Poulson said moments before he was sentenced. “I made some bad choices.”
In 2015, Emily Almiron and her son Gabriel disappeared and Poulson denied knowing what happened to them. He originally told Orem police he kicked her out of the house for drug use.
Almiron’s father said from the outset he suspected Poulson had something to do with their disappearance. In court, he became emotional as he spoke of his daughter and grandson.
“They were beautiful beautiful children,” said Jesse Quijano. “I miss them terribly. I just want them back you know.”
For four years, Poulson kept this secret to himself. During his sentencing, a family member said Poulson told her that he was praying for their safe return.
But the evidence started mounting as Orem police discovered his whereabouts shortly after they disappeared. Police used his cellphone to track his movements shortly after their disappearance Video surveillance showed Poulson bought a rope and a shovel at a store. The bodies of Almiron and Gabriel were in the trunk of the car he was driving.
He then buried mother and son in a shallow grave in Juab County. Poulson accepted a plea deal in exchange for showing law enforcement where he buried the bodies. He was facing the death penalty but it was taken off the table if he could produce the bodies.
After weeks of searching for the burial site, law enforcement finally found the burial site.
The Utah County assistant attorney recalled Poulson’s first statements after their bodies were finally found.
“The first statement from Mr. Poulson was ‘that’s really good for me,'” said Lance Bastian, the prosecutor.
Bastian said Almiron and Gabriel were together in the shallow grave. Almiron was on the bottom and Gabriel on top. But they also found a cigarette butt in the grave.
“(The cigarette butt) told me the same thing that every thing else in this case was about– it told me that he didn’t care,” said Bastian.
Almiron’s step-mother said it was the first time they had learned of the cigarette butt in the grave.
“To just hear him standing over where he just created a hole to stuff their bodies in and to flick a cigarette back that’s the final insult,” said Diana Quijano. “There was no respect or love for Emily and Gabriel.”
But Almiron’s biological mother struck a different tone in the courtroom. Hers was of forgiveness.
“I worry about Chris’ future,” said Brenda Marsh. “I worry about his safety. My heart hurts for his family and I worry about the pain they will face through the years. Seeing Chris go to prison brings me no joy. But it does bring me peace. It is right for him to be (in prison) and serve his sentence.”
Poulson did apologize when he was given the opportunity to speak.
“I feel terrible about what has happened,” he said. “It’s hard to explain the pain and sorrow that I feel because of this. It’s insufficient to explain the pain I’ve caused these families. I feel extreme remorse. “
The judge rejected the sentencing recommendations created by the plea bargain. Instead, Judge Robert Lunnen sentenced Poulson to 15 years to life in prison for murder and one to 15 years in prison for manslaughter.
Each count will run consecutively, meaning he will have to serve a minimum of 16 years in prison. The judge said it will be up to the Board of Pardons to determine just how long he will serve in prison following the sixteen years.
“I have heard some pretty miraculous comments about forgiveness and I find that the most interesting thing today,” said Judge Lunnen. “I hope that those who have been affected will somehow find a way to heal.”
Almiron’s father said it will take a life time to overcome the loss of his daughter and grandson. He said he felt like he was “mentally incarcerated.”
“I see no release whatsoever,” said Quijano. “I am in it for a life time with no end to my suffering. I have to accept it because I have no choice. My Emma and Gabe are not coming home to me. It’s tearing me to shreds.
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