Convicted murderer Luther Hampson was sentenced Thursday by District Court Judge Douglas Walker to 25 years in prison plus five years of parole upon his release.
Hampson, 28, pled guilty to second degree murder for killing Jonathan Hayes, 27, whose body was found by hikers Jan. 14, 2012, in a remote wooded area off County Road T, west of Dolores.
Hayes, of Dolores, died from a knife wound to the neck and had suffered a severe beating to his head, according to a coroner report. Montezuma County sheriff deputies found blood and the handle of a straight razor near his body.
Walker accepted the plea bargain, saying, "Twenty-five years for taking a life seems like not much time, but it would be worse for the family if it went to trial because they'd have to live through it (again)."
At the sentencing, prosecutors and family described Hayes, nicknamed "Chubs," as a young man with a promising future.
Hayes' aunt, Caroline Massey, testified, "We will never fully heal from this tragedy and (we) have a piece of our hearts missing. There's a long of anguish, and we want justice for our Chubby."
Grandfather Robert Hayes said, "More should have been done due to the severity and brutal fashion of this crime. This man cut short my grandson's life and has no remorse. Our boy was murdered, and our only consolation is that this defendant will forever burn in hell."
Hampson, the defendant, apologized to the Hayes family and to the sheriff's office for not coming forward sooner. He described a fight with Hayes that became violent and said he learned later that Hayes had died.
"I got scared about what happened, scared I was guilty, scared to go to prison," Hampson said, "so here I am today. I apologize to Jonathan's family. He was a good person and didn't deserve this. Chubby is in my dreams and we are hanging out. Then I wake up and realize he's gone."
Jeannie Clark, Hampson's mother, blamed the situation on a culture of drug use, and she also apologized to the Hayes family.
"I'm very sorry about Jonathan's death," she said. "What happened was a series of poor choices."
Prosecutor Jack Roth said only two people know what happened that night.
"Hayes is gone, and the defendant has told five different stories."
Montezuma County Sheriff Detective Tyson Cox testified that Hampson sought help at a residence a mile from the murder scene. He had a cut on his hand and blood on his clothes.
When asked if he had hurt himself, Hampson reportedly replied, "No. People shouldn't piss me off."