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Utah killer behind bars for 42 years gets wish to serve entire life sentence

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Wire, fences and a guard tower at the Utah State Prison in Draper are pictured on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Gilbert Gonzales, who was convicted of a 1979 murder in Utah, has been ordered to serve out his entire life sentence at the prison.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

UTAH STATE PRISON — A man sentenced to the Utah State Prison for killing a woman more than 42 years ago has gotten his wish to serve out his life sentence.

Gilbert Gonzales, 80, beat a woman to death in 1979, just hours after he told a friend of his plans. He was sentenced to a term of five years to life in the Utah State Prison.

For years, Gonzales has refused to take part in education or rehabilitation programs, telling members of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole that he just wants to stay in prison for the rest of his life.

His latest parole hearing on March 2 was no different.

As board member Greg Johnson started the hearing with formality questions, Gonzales immediately made it known he didn't want to be there.

“Are you Gilbert Gonzales?” Johnson asked in a recording of the hearing.

“Yes. I don’t want to talk to you people. I signed a waiver and I don’t want to see you,” Gonzales responded. “You decide whatever you want to do, it’s OK with me.”

Johnson then attempted to ask a few questions that board members typically ask at every parole hearing.

“I do have a few questions I was wondering if you’d be willing to answer?” he asked.

“No, I don’t,” Gonzales replied.

Johnson then stated that according to Gonzales’ written statements, he wants to remain in prison.

“I don’t care what you do. I told you once and I tell you again and again and again,” Gonzales repeated.

At that point the hearing ended, less than three minutes after it began.

The full five-member board ruled two days later that Gonzales will serve his entire life sentence.

No future parole hearings were scheduled, though should Gonzales change his mind about wanting to be released, the board is allowed to take a rehearing request under consideration. But Gonzales would first have to follow through with his case action plan, which typically involves the type of rehabilitation programs he has so far refused. He would also have to have no future discipline problems while incarcerated, according to the board's website.

In February of 1979, Gonzales told a friend he was going to beat the woman to death just hours before he killed her. When the woman returned home, the two started arguing and Gonzales beat her to death with his fist. Gonzales then hid the woman’s body in a boiler room, according to accounts from his 2001 parole hearing.

Gonzales had a history of alcohol-related offenses, assault charges and a 1976 negligent homicide conviction for killing a man during a bar fight, before the 1979 murder.