The night before Lucas Bodell shot and killed a man during a fight on the freeway, his father warned him about carrying a gun in his vehicle.
"My dad said, `If you're not going out hunting, you ought to get that gun out of your truck,' " Bodell said. He assured his father nothing bad would happen. But he was wrong.The next night was Christmas Eve. As he and his brother traveled south on I-15, they got into a fight with two men in another car. After a couple of miles of "cat and mouse" chasing, Bodell fired one shot at the other car, hitting Dennis Kierstead.
Kierstead's nephew was driving and rushed his uncle to Alta View Hospital, where the 30-year-old man was pronounced dead. Bodell maintains he shot in self-defense.
He said Kierstead flashed gang signs and a gun at him during the fight.
"I never said what I did was right," Bodell said at his parole hearing Friday morning. "I just reacted from my gut. I was scared to death."
Bodell was charged with murder, a first-degree felony. However, when the gun misfired twice during testimony from an expert who was demonstrating why the weapon had to be fired intentionally, he won a plea bargain.
The 22-year-old Union man pleaded guilty to manslaughter, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Board Chairman Mike Sibbett said manslaughter was the appropriate punishment for Bodell's crime because it wasn't premeditated.
But he reprimanded Bodell for sticking to his story of self-defense and told him he believed Kierstead flashed neither gang signs nor a gun.
"I hope you don't plan on an early release," Sibbett said. But the chairman took the case under advisement and will meet with the other board members to decide if and when Bodell will be paroled.