PARK CITY — A 3rd District judge surprised both prosecutors and defense attorneys Tuesday by sentencing Paul Wayment to 30 days in jail in the death of Wayment's 2 1/2-year-old son.
"The court cannot punish Mr. Wayment more than he is already being punished, but there must be a consequence to his actions," Judge Robert Hilder said.
Wayment will begin serving his sentence Wednesday in the Summit County Jail.
The 38-year-old father pleaded no contest last month to class A misdemeanor negligence. In exchange for his plea, state prosecutors agreed not to seek jail time or object if Hilder sentenced Wayment for a lesser misdemeanor offense.
If convicted at trial, originally scheduled in June, Wayment would have faced up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
Hilder, saying "some acts call out for a response," ruled against both sides and gave Wayment the jail time.
"I've never wanted him in jail. That's been my position since day one," said Summit County Attorney Robert Adkins.
A presentence report recommended Wayment serve 30 days of home confinement and complete 80 hours community service.
Defense attorney Glen Cook was also stunned by the sentence. "I don't think a jail sentence will bring greater condemnation than Paul has already brought upon himself," Cook said. "The conviction alone is a significant punishment that will always be there.
Wayment, showing little emotion, told the court before being sentenced, "In one brief moment, I made the biggest and most painful wrong of my life. The life that I now live is the hell that I alone have created. The pain is incomprehensible."
Prosecutors contend Wayment left his son, Gage, sleeping in a car seat while he scouted a hunting area in the mountains above Coalville on Oct. 26, 2000. The child somehow got out of Wayment's truck while he was away and wandered off into the woods.
His frozen body was found five days later by a volunteer who had joined the massive search-and-rescue effort. An autopsy revealed Gage died of hypothermia. Evidence suggests the boy roamed about the woods for quite some time, as the rubber soles on the feet of his pyjamas was worn through.
Wayment's estranged wife and Gage's mother, Brenda Harrison, did not attend Tuesday's sentencing.
In the wake of Gage's disappearance, Harrison accused Wayment of abducting the child because he was afraid of losing custody of his son. However, Harrison has since accompanied Wayment to each of his court appearances.
Before searchers recovered Gage's body, Wayment allegedly told police deputies to "shoot him." According to court documents, he also said, "I should have never left him in the truck, I should have never done that. That is the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life, and I should be skinned and shot for that."