Provo Killer Sentenced for Life

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    By John Hyde

    A Utah County man was sentenced to up to life in prison this week for the murder of his wife”s boyfriend and the attempted murder of his wife.

    Judge Lynn Davis of Provo”s 4th District Court sentenced Jaime Velasco, a 27-year-old illegal immigrant, to two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison this Tuesday for the February 2005 stabbings of Fernando Barraza, 20, and Laura Roholt, 22.

    Davis added two additional terms of one to five years in prison because the stabbings were done in the presence of Velasco”s two children, ages 2 and 8 months.

    All of the sentences imposed on Velasco should run consecutively, Davis said.

    Under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamines, Velasco attacked his estranged wife in her car when she returned home with Barraza. Velasco stabbed Roholt multiple times in the chest, puncturing her lungs. He then stabbed Barraza and slit his throat from ear to ear. Velasco”s children witnessed the killings from the car.

    Roholt recovered from her wounds after being rushed to the hospital, but Barraza died at the scene.

    Velasco also turned the knife on himself, puncturing one of his lungs, before driving himself to the Provo Police Department.

    “He showed up on our steps, bleeding,” said Capt. Rick Healey of the Provo Police Department. Velasco was arrested and taken to the hospital.

    Velasco”s lawyer, Richard Gale, said Velasco has shown remorse from the beginning, evidenced in his actions of turning himself in rather than fleeing. Velasco had no prior criminal history.

    Healey doubts that Velasco”s motives for turning himself in were responsibility-driven, however.

    “Our feeling was that he came to the police station to provoke the police to shoot him. He wanted to die, which is also why he stabbed himself,” Healey said. “But by the time he got here, he was ready to go to the hospital.”

    Velasco pled guilty in a plea bargain that reduced his charges from capital to first-degree murder, thereby avoiding the death penalty, according to court documents.

    Davis waived most of the felony fees, which amounted to nearly $30,000, because of Velasco”s inability to pay. Velasco will still have to pay $1,000 to Barraza”s uncle – the cost of transferring Barraza”s body to Mexico – and $2,000 for Roholt”s medical bills.

    There was only one other murder in Provo in 2005, according to Provo Police Crime Analyst Daline Higgins.

    When Velasco is released from prison he”ll be deported to Mexico.

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