CASTLE DALE — An Emery County man accused of providing a loaded gun to a woman who killed herself in his home has been ordered to serve jail time for endangering his children.
Randy John Behling, 33, was initially charged in July with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and four counts of reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty in October to two counts of reckless endangerment in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining charges.
"This definitely fits the definition of a tragic case," deputy Emery County attorney Brent Langston said Tuesday during Behling's sentencing hearing.
"It shows what alcohol can do," the prosecutor added.
Authorities say A'Lisa Joy Weston was distraught when she showed up at Behling's home late on the night of July 28. She was extremely intoxicated, as was Behling, and had just broken up with her boyfriend.
Now, standing in Behling's bedroom, she apparently threatened to kill herself.
What happened next remains unclear, because Behling — the only living witness — has given conflicting statements to Emery County sheriff's detectives.
In one interview, he said he gave Weston a loaded .40-caliber handgun and told her "to go ahead and do it (commit suicide)," court records show. He also told the detective he then chased Weston through the house after she had the gun, telling her not to shoot herself.
In a subsequent interview, Behling said he didn't give Weston the gun, but said she grabbed it from him and then shot herself once in the chest.
An autopsy confirmed that Weston died as a result of a single gunshot, Langston said. Behling's four children were asleep in the home when the shooting occurred.
"He didn't call 911 first," the prosecutor told 7th District Judge Douglas Thomas. "He waited about 10 minutes for her to die, then called 911 after calling her boyfriend."
Defense attorney Steven Killpack countered that Behling wasn't being sentenced for his conduct toward Weston, but rather for the danger he placed his children in when Weston gained access to his gun.
"My client pled guilty to the endangerment of his children," Killpack said. "Sadly, A'Lisa Weston committed suicide, but her death is something for which my client is not criminally responsible."
Thomas agreed, noting that he was bound by the law and the plea agreement Behling signed to sentence him only for endangering his children. He ordered Behling to serve six months in jail, but granted him the privilege of work release.
Behling also was ordered to serve three years of probation, pay a $1,500 fine and complete any counseling recommended by his probation officer.
It was a sentence that offended Weston's mother, who has been critical of the sheriff's investigation and the prosecution from the beginning.
"There's no closure because I don't believe what (Behling) said. I don't believe him at all," said Melissa Weston, who said she was "stunned" to learn in court Tuesday that Behling had waited 10 minutes to call for help after the shooting.
"To me, that shows he was waiting for her to die," she said. "That alone should have shown he was trying to cover something up."