A Layton man was convicted of capital murder Wednesday night for the Nov. 20, 1985, murder of his estranged wife.
The 12-member jury took about 41/2 hours to find Jon Wetzel, 40, guilty of the first-degree felony.Second District Judge Michael Lyon set Sept. 28 for the penalty phase. The jury will now have to decide if Wetzel should be sentenced to die, life without parole or life in prison.
Wetzel was accused of having his girlfriend shoot Sharol Wetzel, 36, seven days after his estranged wife filed for divorce. Sharol Wetzel's body was found in her car by the Ogden River. She had been shot in the head.
Kittie Eakes, 33, confessed to the murder two days later and eventually pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge. She was sentenced to serve from six years to life in prison. Eakes is now in prison, and her parole hearing is set for 1996.
Eakes testified for three days and told the jury that Wetzel hounded her into killing his wife. She said that back in 1985, she just couldn't say no to a man she loved, so she shot the woman.
Wetzel did not testify during the trial.
In closing arguments Wednesday, Deputy Weber County Attorney Bill Daines told the jury that Wetzel planned and executed the murder because Wetzel was jealous and didn't want his wife to get any assets from their pending divorce.
Daines said that Wetzel told a friend the day before the murder that "it's almost over, I'm not going to take the fall."
The prosecutor then said, "The next day Sharol Wetzel was dead and the defendant didn't take the fall."
Eakes was the perfect person to have kill his wife, said Daines, because back in 1985, Eakes was an "emotional wounded individual" who had been sexually and physically abused as a child and ended up on the streets of Ogden working as a prostitute.
Daines said that Wetzel manipulated Eakes into killing his wife by first acting as her boyfriend and then by telling her that his wife should die. Later, Wetzel manipulated her even more by saying someone else should kill his wife.
Eventually, Daines said that Wetzel asked Eakes to kill his wife and he gave her money to purchase the gun, added the prosecutor. Then on Dec. 20, Wetzel had put enough pressure on Eakes that she finally carried out his order.
But defense attorney Martin Gravis tried to convince the jury that the local police "framed" his client because they had their minds set from the beginning that Wetzel was involved with his wife's murder. "They (police) set out to prove that," said Gravis.
The Ogden attorney said that police even threatened to file capital murder charges against Eakes if she didn't implicate Wetzel.
Eakes initially refused to change her story that she acted alone and she killed Sharol Wetzel because the woman owed her money for drugs. And after spending more than six years in prison, Gravis said that Eakes implicated Wetzel because members of the parole board told her she would spend the rest of her life in prison unless she said Wetzel ordered her to kill his wife.
"This case really boils down to if you believe Kittie Eakes or not," said Gravis.