SALT LAKE CITY — An appeals court has upheld a pair of aggravated murder convictions against a Cedar City man who shot and killed his girlfriend and his friend in 2013 because he believed they were having an affair.
Thad Douglas Robertson, 59, appealed the verdicts, saying he didn't intend to kill the girlfriend and shot his friend in self-defense. Robertson also argued that his attorney wasn't effective and the trial should have had more jurors.
Utah Court of Appeals Judge David Mortensen issued an opinion rejecting those arguments from Robertson, among others. Two other judges concurred in the decision released May 18.
In 2015, Robertson was given a sentence of life in prison without parole for each of the murder charges.
Prosecutors argued he got home on Feb. 15, 2013, about the same time that his friend Jeffery Hardy arrived, then left and came back. He found Hardy and his girlfriend, Diann Bailey, talking in the living room, but they got quiet when he appeared and it irritated him, according to the appeals court's ruling.
Robertson shot both Hardy and Bailey. He told police one person inside had been shot and the second was likely armed with a handgun.
In his appeal, Robertson contended he didn't think the gun was loaded when he pulled the trigger on his girlfriend and didn't intend to kill her. But the gun was a revolver, with cartridges that stick out of the cylinder, the judge noted, echoing prosecutors' argument at trial.
"We are not persuaded," Mortensen wrote.
Roberton's appeal also argued he shot Hardy in self-defense, but the court noted that Thompson acknowledged his friend didn't have a weapon, and though he told police the man loved to fight, the two had never brawled in the past.
He also argued he should have had a jury of 12 — the requirement for cases wherein the death penalty is on the table — instead of the eight jurors at his trial. He said the possible penalty of life without parole should be treated as a capital case, but the court disagreed, noting prosecutors said they wouldn't seek the death penalty.
Robertson also said his defense attorney didn't investigate potential witnesses and wrongly advised him not to sit in on jury selection, among other shortcomings. But the judge noted that the lower court had appointed an investigator to help with his case. And when a judge asked him at two different points if his attorney was correct in saying that he wanted to waive his right to be present for jury selection, Mortensen wrote, Robertson had agreed.