PROVO — A Utah County prosecutor said there was an inch difference between John Veater being tried for attempted murder and being tried for actual murder in connection with a lovers' duel Veater planned for his estranged wife's boyfriend.
During a sentencing hearing in 4th District Court Thursday, deputy Utah County attorney Jeff Buhman said the bullet from a black powder pistol Veater allegedly shot missed the heart of his estranged wife's lover by a fraction of an inch, bruising it. "But for an inch, a half an inch, he would be dead," Buhman said.
Police say on June 3, 2002, Veater, distraught over his wife leaving him for another man, used a key to enter his wife's Provo apartment, armed with two black powder pistols. Police say Veater intended to challenge Robert Shuffler to a pistol duel, but when Shuffler refused, Veater allegedly shot Shuffler in the chest. Two hours later police located Veater in a vehicle in Pleasant Grove. As officers closed in they say Veater turned the guns on himself, firing into his chest, but not seriously wounding himself.
Now left with partial lung use and more than $40,000 in medical bills, Shuffler said he still deals with chronic pain.
Veater pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder, a second-degree felony, last October.
Means called Veater's actions on June 3 "out of character" for him, pointing out that Veater was an Eagle Scout by the age of 14.
"His life, but for this day, has been an exemplary life," Means said. Attempting to explain Veater's actions, Means said the 24-year-old was emotionally distraught over the breakup with his wife and the possibility of losing his children.
Buhman pointed out that Veater had past convictions on assault, theft, vehicle burglary and disorderly conduct as a juvenile. "This is not Eagle Scout behavior."
Judge Fred Howard called Veater's actions "calculated" and "designed to inflict ultimate harm." Howard sentenced Veater to the maximum sentence of one to 15 years in prison, granting him 220 days credit for time served in the Utah County Jail.