IRON COUNTY — The Utah Supreme Court ruled 5-0 in the case of State v. Nelson Friday, upholding an Iron County man’s double-murder conviction.
Martin Chris Nelson is serving two life prison sentences without the possibility of parole for the 2007 deaths of Chad Grijalva and Derek Davis, whom he was convicted of killing after the two came to his trailer in Beryl to buy drugs. Nelson said a fight broke out between him and the two men and that he killed them in self-defense.
Nelson was found guilty of shooting and killing Grijalva and Davis, then burying their bodies in his yard and dismantling the truck they drove to his house in.
He claimed self-defense in the murders.
Nelson appealed the conviction of two charges of aggravated murder and one charge of theft by receiving a stolen motor vehicle, saying his trial counsel ineffectively defended him and presented evidence that harmed him.
The Supreme Court rejected Nelson’s claims and voted to uphold his conviction, holding that he had been defended adequately.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement Friday after the Utah Supreme Court’s ruling:
This case demonstrates the Attorney General Office’s continued commitment to protecting the rights of victims and their families — and ensuring justice is served in Utah criminal cases. This is another example of the fine work done by the entire AG Criminal Appeals Division under the leadership of Director Laura Dupaix.
In a press release, Reyes thanked Assistant Attorney General John Nielsen, who represented the state during the appeal proceedings, and Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett for his work in representing the state during the original trial.
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