CEDAR CITY – A 42-year-old Beaver County man recently waived all of his rights to a trial, choosing instead to plead guilty of murdering his girlfriend last month.
Ronald Cory Fordham entered a guilty plea to first-degree felony murder in 5th District Court April 25 after first trying to plead no contest.
Fordham shot and killed his girlfriend, 37-year-old Desiree Shotwell, April 10, in her own home located southeast of Beaver City. Authorities said he had been drinking.
Fordham’s attorney Edrick Overson told Judge Michael Westfall his client wanted to enter a no contest plea but asked the court to dismiss the third-degree felony he was facing for being in possession of a firearm as a restricted person.
Beaver County Attorney Von Christiansen objected to the plea of no contest. Overson then informed the court, after a five-minute recess, the defendant would enter a guilty plea.
Fordham waived the right to a preliminary hearing and all other rights afforded him.
The court accepted the guilty plea and upon Fordham’s wishes proceeded with sentencing.
After hearing from a representative for the victims, Westfall listened to Overson speak on his client’s behalf. Fordham also addressed the court.
Westfall sentenced the defendant to the maximum fines and penalties on count one, first-degree felony murder, ordering him to an indeterminate term but no less than 15 years in the Utah State Penitentiary. Fordham could spend life in prison under the court’s order.
The fine was set at a total of $19,043. Restitution was left open for a year, meaning there was no amount ordered at the time of sentencing but the state has up to one year to still file.
The court dismissed count two, possession of a firearm by a restricted person.
Westfall recommended Fordham spend the rest of his life in prison.
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