IDAHO FALLS – An Idaho Falls man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for fatally shooting his friend during an argument.
Justin Sarbaum, 37, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter in a plea deal after fatally shooting 32-year-old Tyson Tew on Jan. 14, 2017, the Post Register reported. He was initially charged with second-degree murder.
District Judge Joel Tingey denied a motion filed Tuesday by Sarbaum’s lawyer, Curtis Smith, to withdraw the guilty plea
Sarbaum, who apologized at the sentencing, claimed he needed to defend himself after Tew punched him multiple times and refused to leave his apartment. Tew’s hands did not show evidence of injury, according to Idaho Falls police.
Tew’s sister, mother and his fiancee described the pain of their loss in victim impact statements read at the sentencing.
“It’s hard to put into words the impact this has had on our family,” said Karee Hudock, Tew’s sister. “We are a strong, tight-knit family, but this has left us broken.”
Smith also noted his client had no prior criminal history and had cooperated with authorities.
Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey agreed that Sarbaum is not likely to become a repeat offender but said, “being the best citizen in the world for the rest of his life will not bring (Tew) back.”
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