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VERNAL — The man who committed Utah's first homicide of 2011 will spend at least 15 years in prison.
William Robert Feldmiller was ordered Tuesday in 8th District Court to serve a 15-years-to-life term for killing his roommate, Mark "Joe" Bedwell.
Bedwell's sister, Kerry Arias, addressed the court and described Feldmiller as a "cowardly monster."
"You repaid his kindness by brutally taking his life," Arias told an emotionless Feldmiller.
Bedwell, 46, had allowed Feldmiller, 61, to stay in his trailer home for five years before a drunken argument erupted on Jan. 20. Bedwell ordered Feldmiller to get out. Feldmiller responded by drawing a knife from a sheath on his belt and stabbing Bedwell three times. Feldmiller then called 911 to report that he had had "an altercation" with his roommate.
Police arrived at the trailer home and detained Feldmiller, who was later arrested and has never denied stabbing his roommate. Bedwell, who was recovering from hip surgery at the time of the incident, died a short time later at Ashley Regional Medical Center.
Feldmiller did not testify at trial and declined to say anything at Tuesday's sentencing hearing when Judge Ed Peterson offered him the opportunity to do so.
Arias and other members of Bedwell's family, however, did have something to say after the hearing. The family, some of whom had traveled from West Virginia and Georgia to see Feldmiller sentenced, all agreed that 15 years in prison was an insufficient punishment, given what they had lost.
They agreed, however, that they wouldn't have supported the death penalty for Feldmiller — a punishment that was not even an option due to the facts of the case.
My brother felt pain and was brutally murdered by that man. My brother didn't get any wishes. He didn't get a last meal.
"(Feldmiller) would just go to sleep. He wouldn't feel any pain," Arias said, referring to lethal injection.
"My brother felt pain and was brutally murdered by that man," she said. "My brother didn't get any wishes. He didn't get a last meal."
The family described Bedwell as a larger-than- life character who "never knew a stranger." His friendship with Feldmiller was so strong that Bedwell even pawned some of his own guns on the day he was killed to provide his roommate with gas money, Arias said.
"Joe loved his guns," she said. "They meant so much to him. He'd had them for a lifetime, so that's how much, how generous Joe was."
The family members said Feldmiller may have taken their brother, father and son's body from them, but they will continue to celebrate his life and his spirit. They also plan to remind Feldmiller of their loss.
Ken Bedwell has erected a stone monument on his ranch in honor of his brother. He plans to affix a bronze plaque bearing Mark "Joe" Bedwell's name to the marker.
"I'll send (Feldmiller) a picture of it in prison every February," Ken Bedwell said, noting February's significance as the month his slain brother was born.