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Ex-Utah guardsman to spend up to 5 years in prison for stepdad's death

PROVO — A former Utah National Guardsman will serve up to five years in prison for the death of his stepfather, a judge determined Friday.

Jace Zeeman, of American Fork, was charged in January 2018 with murder, a first-degree felony, after police said he beat and killed 47-year-old Brandon Bourgeois. Zeeman, 29, had been fighting with Bourgeois to defend his mother, but used more force than would be expected to protect himself, investigators said in an affidavit.

Jace Zeeman
Jace Zeeman
Utah County Jail

Zeeman pleaded guilty in June to domestic violence homicide by assault, a third-degree felony. Two additional charges of domestic violence in the presence of a child, a third-degree felony, were dismissed in exchange for his plea.

On Friday, a 4th District judge sentenced him to up to five years in prison, according to a report from the Daily Herald. Prosecutors said he will likely serve about two years based on the court's matrix system.

Zeeman went to his mother's house in American Fork on Aug. 27, 2017, after he was ordered to leave his own home following an intoxicated argument with his wife, according to a police affidavit.

An argument broke out between family members about 3 a.m. that morning. Court documents show that Zeeman told police he stepped between his mother and Bourgeois to try to calm the situation when the two began arguing with each other.

Bourgeois hit Zeeman in the face and Zeeman hit him back, knocking his stepfather to the ground, according to court records.

Zeeman then continued to hit his stepfather until "the victim was not breathing and had no pulse," charging documents state. Bourgeois later died of a brain injury caused by the altercation.

"The fighting never stopped until the police arrived," witnesses told investigators.

At the sentencing Friday, Zeeman cried while talking about his relationship with Bourgeois and apologized to his stepfather's family members, the Daily Herald reported.

"I was scared," Zeeman said, according to the Herald. "I was in complete shock."

Zeeman is a former member of the Utah National Guard. He was honorably discharged in November 2018.