Utah man gets life term for killing code enforcement officer

Firefighters work at the scene of a structure fire in West Valley City, Utah, Aug. 9, 2018. Authorities say Kevin Wayne Billings set the fire after he shot and killed a city code enforcement officer nearby. | Photo by Ravell Call/The Deseret News via Associated Press, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah man who pleaded guilty to killing a city code enforcement officer and setting her body on fire last year has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Kevin Wayne Billings, 65, didn’t speak during a hearing Monday in Salt Lake City. But attorney Nick Falcone said his client feels remorse.

Authorities say Billings killed 52-year-old Jill Robinson in August 2018 after what he considered years of harassment over laws requiring cleanup of trash and weeds outside his home. Billings said the code enforcement officer in West Valley City “got what she deserved,” according to jail documents.

Police say Billings poured gasoline on Robinson’s city pickup truck and set it ablaze. They say he also started a fire on his neighbor’s deck, destroying the home and killing six dogs and two cats.

Family of victim Jill Robinson said no justice can rectify his actions.

Kevin Wayne Billings, who authorities say shot and killed a code-enforcement officer Aug. 9, 2018, torched her truck and set a fire that destroyed the home next door. | Photo courtesy of the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, via Associated Press, St. George News

Billings had wrongly accused the neighbors of reporting his yard to the city, a spokeswoman for the couple who lived next door said immediately following the incident.

As the fires burned, Billings stood in his driveway, near the body, witnesses told police. Billings was arrested on suspicion of aggravated arson, murder and other charges last year. Police say they found an assault-style rifle, a handgun, bolt cutters, a propane torch and gas containers in his house.

Robinson was remembered as a mother, grandmother and dedicated employee who loved softball. She had worked for the city for 10 years. Robinson was an unarmed, civilian worker who typically dealt with complaints about unkempt yards or abandoned cars, West Valley City officials said. Code enforcement officers are trained to leave and call police if people get hostile.

“She was always very friendly, quick to wave when you’d see her,” city spokesman Sam Johnson said following the incident in 2018.

Other code enforcement officers were pulled off the streets immediately after the slaying last year.

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