Teen Sentenced for Murder of Group Home Counselor

Teen Sentenced for Murder of Group Home Counselor

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- A Delaware teen was sentenced Monday in the death of a southern Utah group home counselor.

Fifth District Judge G. Michael Westfall sentenced Jesse Simmons, 18, of Wilmington, Del., to five years to life in the Utah State Prison. Simmons pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder in December for the killing of counselor Anson Arnett on March 8, 2004.

Simmons and co-defendant Sean Graham, 18, of Rockville, Md., allegedly hit Arnett, 31, on the head with a baseball bat, stuffed him into a closet and cut the phone line to the group home, authorities said.

They then allegedly fled the Maximum Life Skills Academy in the academy's van, which was later found in Las Vegas, where both were arrested.

Arnett died a day after the attack in a Salt Lake City hospital.

Graham is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges.

Even though both were 17 at the time, Simmons and Graham were charged as adults with the murder. Utah law states that anyone over the age of 16 who commits aggravated murder must be charged as an adult.

Simmons apologized to the Arnett family during the sentencing hearing, court spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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