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Prison term ordered in '97 kidnapping

Grabbing a woman at gunpoint and forcing her into her car with orders to drive away sent a Utah man to prison for up to 20 years.

Third District Judge Timothy R. Hanson sentenced Rex T. Matthews to terms of one to 15 years in prison for kidnapping and one to five years for using a gun in the July 26, 1997, incident. Matthews got credit for the 194 days he has already spent in jail.The victim, Shellie Anne Shelton of Idaho, was in Salt Lake City for a night of dining and dancing. Matthews grabbed her when she left the club and was heading for her car.

"In this community, I like to think that young women . . . can leave business establishments, en-tertainment establishments and return to their automobiles without being accosted by a man with a gun," Hanson said at Friday's sentencing.

Shelton escaped when one of her friends shouted at Matthews to leave Shelton alone, and Shelton jumped out of the car. Matthews fled but was caught by another club patron.

"It was basically a fluke that she got away. This victim was severely traumatized by this action," Hanson said.

Matthews made no statement to the court. His attorney, Bruce Oliver, recommended that Matthews serve time in the Salt Lake County Jail rather than the Utah State Prison, receive counseling and be subjected to careful supervision in the community.

"This is an aberration in his life, this is not a pattern, this is something that happened one time," Oliver said. "I don't think he rep-resents a serious threat of violent behavior."

Oliver also said that the period of time the woman was detained was brief and the gun was not operable and not loaded.

Prosecutor Richard Hamp said many people have lapses in behavior that bring them into court. However, there is a difference between minor offenses such as stealing a candy bar from a store and taking a gun to kidnap someone. A minor offense "cries out for some lenient treatment from the criminal justice system," but not this, Hamp said.

"You just do not kidnap people, take them at gunpoint and expect not to be incarcerated," Hamp said.