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Man sentenced to prison for fiery, fatal downtown wreck

Man sentenced to prison for fiery, fatal downtown wreck

(Salt Lake County Jail/Family photo)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A mother of a girl taken too soon, a girl taken the day before her 27th birthday and before her mother could visit and teach her to bake banana bread, had a simple request for the judge Monday.

"Please consider giving the sentence you would give had someone taken your daughter," said Mary Waters, mother of Julie Ann Jorgenson.

Third District Judge Denise Lindberg noted there was "no good outcome in this case" and handed down the maximum sentence available to Shane Roy Gillette, 38.

Lindberg ordered Gillette to serve zero to five years in prison for manslaughter and operating a vehicle negligently causing injury or death, both third-degree felonies. She ordered the prison terms to run consecutively and that Gillette pay $5,000 in restitution. Gillette pleaded guilty to the counts in June.

Jorgenson was killed the morning of Jan. 6, 2011, when the vehicle Gillette was driving, its windows mostly covered in frost, slammed into Jorgenson's vehicle at the intersection of 500 South and 300 East. Jorgenson, who was stopped at a light there, was killed when her car burst into flames.

Waters said her daughter was the kind of child every parent hopes for. She was goal-oriented, kind, passionate and loving.

She said Jorgenson lived life to the fullest, cherished her family and friends, and loved hiking, running and shopping. They always skied together, and Waters said she hasn't gone to a ski slope since her daughter's death.

"The pain inside weighs less with time, but it never goes away," she said. "There is always some anxiety in the back of my mind, wondering if another child or sibling will be taken too soon."

Both Jorgenson's mother and stepfather told the judge that the state of the woman's body was such that they would never see her again and never have the opportunity to say goodbye.

For the rest of my life I will live with the fact that my negligence took a life. I want to prevent this sort of thing from happening to any other families.

–Shane Gillette

"There is nothing that can change the fact that our beautiful daughter is gone," Michael Waters said.

Gillette's attorney, Scott Wilson, said his client got into his car that morning without socks, shoes or shirt, scraped a tiny square on his frosted windshield and took off speeding at 70 mph. Gillette had a small amount of marijuana in his system that Wilson said wouldn't have affected his behavior.

"It is a psychotic event because nothing else makes sense even for a lay person," Wilson said. "What we have is a person acting upon what he really thought was happening to him. He thought someone was attacking him, was following him, and he reacted as someone in the real world would act if someone was about to harm them. He fled."

Gillette's "delusion" led to Jorgenson's death, the defense attorney said, and left Gillette seriously injured. Gillette now knows he has a mental illness, Wilson said, and has begun to take medication that has improved his ability to think. He said Gillette has an exemplary record at the jail, where he has been since the crash, and asked for probation.

"You can see a changed person," Wilson said. "It's not the same person that drove that way at that morning hour."

But prosecutor Sandi Johnson said Gillette's records show he was diagnosed as bipolar at ages 10 and 15, and that he stopped taking medication at 18.

"Mr. Gillette was a time bomb and it went off," Johnson said. "This was a series of choices by Mr. Gillette over and over and over again. He prepared the bomb (and) lit the fuse."

Gillette said the crash impacted him "greatly."

"For the rest of my life I will live with the fact that my negligence took a life," he said. "I want to prevent this sort of thing from happening to any other families."


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Emiley Morgan


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