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JUDGE TO DECIDE THE FATE OF MAN WHO HAD WIFE KILLED

SHARE JUDGE TO DECIDE THE FATE OF MAN WHO HAD WIFE KILLED

A Layton man convicted of capital murder in the 1985 death of his estranged wife will learn Friday whether he will be executed or spend life in prison.

The penalty hearing of Jon Wetzel, 41, wrapped up Tuesday afternoon. Wetzel was convicted Sept. 16 by a 12-member jury of first-degree aggravated murder involving the death of his wife almost seven years ago. He waived the jury for the penalty phase and asked 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon to decide punishment.Sharol Wetzel, 36, Ogden, was found shot to death in her car by the Ogden River on Nov. 20, 1985. Jon Wetzel's girlfriend, Kittie Eakes, confessed to the murder two days later and was eventually sentenced to serve from six years to life in prison.

Eakes implicated Wetzel in the murder sometime in 1990, and he was arrested earlier this year. Prosecutors believe Wetzel had Eakes kill his wife seven days after Sharol Wetzel filed for divorce to prevent her from getting any assets from their 10-year marriage.

After Sharol Wetzel was murdered, her two children received nothing from their mother's estate. Jon Wetzel received about $17,000 in cash.

Wetzel did not testify at his trial but read from a written statement Tuesday morning and asked the judge to be "merciful" by giving him a life sentence. Wetzel neither admitted nor denied he had anything to do with the murder of his wife.

In a soft and nervous voice, sometimes stumbling, Wetzel said that he was born the second of eight children and that his father deserted the family when he was about 10 years old. "We were pretty much raised on welfare," he said.

After working part time during his school years to help support the family, Wetzel said he joined the Air Force and was eventually stationed at Hill Air Force Base.

He said he had been married twice before he had met Sharol Wetzel, and he had fathered two children. He said he felt that overall, he and Sharol had a pretty good relationship. "I felt I was always a good provider for her and her kids," said Wetzel.

During closing arguments, Weber County Attorney Reed Richards tried to persuade the judge to render the death penalty by pointing out that Wetzel killed for money.

Richards said that Wetzel committed a calculated murder and has failed to show any remorse for the death of his wife.

Not only was Sharol Wetzel a victim, Richards pointed out, but so was Eakes. "He (Jon Wetzel) used psychological battery to get her (Eakes) to do what he wanted," said Richards. "He's destroyed the life of Kittie Eakes. That's probably the ugliest scenario of this whole case.

"This is a man who is a master manipulator," added Richards. "He manipulated a way to get out of the fall."

But defense attorney Robert L. Froerer told Lyon that Wetzel should get life because Eakes, who actually pulled the trigger, got life. "What's good for the goose in good for the gander," he said. "Fair treatment is required."

The Ogden defense attorney said he felt the state was "overreaching" in this case because mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating factors.

Forerer said that there was no evidence presented that showed Wetzel had a history of violence. "He's had problems. He's now working himself out of those problems. He's becoming a better person," the attorney said. "He's not a Mother Teresa, but who is? Mr. Wetzel has a lot left to contribute, even in prison. He's a human being with value."