By T. SCOTT SCHAERRER
The man who terrorized students and President Howard W. Hunter at a BYU fireside nearly seven years ago will be granted his freedom today.
Cody Judy, convicted of aggravated burglary for charging the podium during a President Hunter address, will be released on parole from the Utah State Prison today. Judy will be in the care of a halfway house for three to six months and then monitored by a parole officer for up to six more years.
While his release is drawing mixed emotions from the Utah community, Judy said he has paid his dues.
“I figured out the other day that I’ve done 3.3 hours of incarceration for every person that was in the Marriott Center,” Judy said.
His 2,308 days of incarceration have been a finishing school that has allowed him to overcome his problems and better himself, he said.
Judy spent his first two years of prison in the Mental Health Block of the Utah State Prison. He underwent intense personal and group counseling and anger management classes. Judy said he has never been medicated in prison for mental illness.
After joining the main prison system, Judy managed the prison greenhouse, became one of the top salesman for the prison phone sales system and has taken college courses.
“I am four semesters away from graduating from Utah State University in psychology with a minor in sociology,” Judy said.
When he is released, Judy’s first priority is to finish his degree. He hopes to work in sales and has received three different job offers from local businesses.
Judy said part of his reform included apologizing to those he hurt.
“I am thankful that I had an opportunity while President Hunter was alive to write him a personal letter. I probably lament a little bit the opportunity for he and I to have gotten together before he died to express a few words.”
“To anybody who is scared out there I would like to tell them I’m sorry and that this won’t happen again, for sure,” Judy said.
On February 7, 1993, Judy rushed the stage of a multi-stake fireside at the Marriott Center. Judy carried a briefcase and waved a cellular phone that had been taped to look like a bomb. There was a brief exchange of words with President Hunter until police were able to take Judy into custody.
Even though some media reports indicated Judy intended to proclaim himself prophet, he said the events were the results of an intense emotional breakdown.
“When I saw the picture of me and Hunter, the only thing I could see is me up there crying for help. I had gone from an upper-income family man to a bum living in his car with five dollars in his pocket,” Judy said.
Prior to the Marriott Center incident, Judy’s wife and three children left him and he was unable to pay for his newly-built house. He drove to Utah and lived in his car for a time.
A week prior to his arrest, Judy said he attempted to make contact with LDS Church leaders on temple square, but was treated rudely. He said he recalled thinking “if you treat me rudely, I’ll treat you rudely.” At 10 p.m., the night before the incident, Judy said he saw an announcement for the fireside in a local paper.
“The Marriott Center incident was so unplanned,” Judy said.
Despite the acts of terror that were committed, some people feel that Judy has more than payed for his crimes.
Dallas Tall, a friend and former cell mate of Judy, said the sentencing was too extreme.
“My sister was at that fireside and I certainly don’t like what he did, but he didn’t deserve to be in prison for six years” Tall said.
Because the original crime threatened the safety of approximately 17,000 people, Provo Chief of Police, Greg Cooper, said the punishment fit the crime.
“If he was willing to commit that type of behavior and put people’s safety in jeopardy at that level I think it certainly justifies a very serious response. In this particular case his sentencing was probably just,” Cooper said.
Although Judy said he is prepared for civilian life, Wasatch Mental Health sociologist, Pat Salsbury, said prison does not guarantee reform.
“There are so many social things that go on in prison that run counter to the rehabilitation process. I’m not sure if at this time the benefits of rehabilitation outweigh the negative influence of being with a bunch of criminally minded people,” Salsbury said.
Salsbury admits that each case is individual and many prisoners can overcome the odds.
Lieutenant Greg Barber of BYU Police was in charge of security the night of the fireside. He said it is time for all involved to move forward.
“As far as we are concerned he has apparently paid the price for what he did. We wish him well and hope he is successful in all the endeavors throughout his life,” Barber said.