ST. GEORGE — A 24-year-old St. George man will serve time in prison for the brutal attack of his grandparents that took place over Thanksgiving weekend last year.
Jacob Tolman Klein appeared before District Judge Jeffery Wilcox during a sentencing hearing held Tuesday in 5th District Court via video on two second-degree felony counts of aggravated assault and three misdemeanor charges, including assault on a peace officer, criminal mischief and psycho-toxic abuse.
Klein pleaded guilty to the charges on Jan. 19 during a resolution hearing. In exchange for a guilty plea, the state agreed to drop two misdemeanors – one count of interfering with an arresting officer and a threat of violence charge under the terms of the settlement agreement.
Klein was originally charged with attempted homicide by assault but the charge was dropped shortly after it was filed.
The charges stem from an incident reported Nov. 29, 2020 in what was dispatched as a psychiatric problem initially, according to charging documents filed with the court two days after the incident took place.
When officers arrived at the home on Rio Virgin Drive in St. George shortly after 8 p.m., they found an older couple who were injured in a violent attack in their home by the suspect and couple’s grandson, Klein, who had reportedly been inhaling Dust-Off, an inhalant, which officers found in the defendant’s bedroom.
The injuries sustained by the grandfather were so significant, the officer noted, that it appeared he would “not survive this altercation.”
The report also stated the incident started when the grandmother found Klein cursing in his room and asked him to stop, which is when the suspect became volatile. He first attacked his grandfather by kicking him to the ground and then continued kicking him in the face and abdomen.
He then chased his grandmother outside and attacked her as well, fracturing her nose and injuring her forearms. Klein also told the couple during the assault he had a pistol in the home and would use it to kill them, that way when the police came “they won’t have anything to do,” the officer recounted in the report.
During Tuesday’s hearing Prosecutor Eric Gentry represented the state and addressed the court by saying he agreed with the information as outlined in the presentence report recommending a prison sentence – citing the attack on the couple went beyond the aggravated assault cases the court typically sees.
That position was supported by one of the victim impact letters written to the court that Gentry described as “heart wrenching,” and provided a detailed outline of the particularly egregious attack, he said, adding the details in the letter were “frankly – horrific.”
Gentry went on to say the defendant repeatedly told the victims he would kill them and he intended to kill them, if his actions were any indicator of his intentions that night.
Gentry said the defendant wanted to continue beating his grandfather until he was dead – and in fact, Klein “actually thought he was dead,” a statement that Klein also reportedly made to police.
The incident also left the couple with a substantial monetary losses due to the seriousness of the injuries as well as psychological damage, which Gentry said just goes to show the “depravity” of the assault the elderly couple endured that day.
Gentry also said the defendant has continued to demonstrate “exploitive, aggressive or harmful behavior toward others,” which was also documented in the report, elements the prosecutor asked the court to consider as a mitigating factor during sentencing.
He went on to say even the defendant’s own parents believe a short sentence would be insufficient to effectively rehabilitate their son.
Moreover, the prosecutor said, the ruling should send a message that this type of behavior is unacceptable and will result in “a very stringent prison sentence.”
“This was a particularly heinous act,” the prosecutor said in closing.
Defense Attorney Nathan Reed also addressed the court and disputed the state’s claims that his client has a history of exploitive, aggressive or harmful behavior toward others, stating there was nothing in Klein’s criminal history or convictions to support the state’s claims – “certainly nothing along those lines,” Reed said referring to November’s assault.
Reed also said his client expressed “how badly he feels for what he did.”
The defense attorney then asked the court to consider a nine-month sentence on each of the assault charges to be run consecutively, that way Klein would serve 18 months in county jail, as opposed to going to prison.
Klein also addressed the court by apologizing to his parents and said he pleaded guilty to the ”horrible” crime to show the court how truly remorseful he was for his actions, saying he was “deeply ashamed” for what he did to his grandparents.
“I love my grandparents,” he said, and expressed how grateful he was for the compassion they have demonstrated his “entire life.”
Klein went on to say he has spent his time in jail reflecting on the poor choices he made over the years; and despite the fear associated with a prison sentence, he said he was willing to pay for his crimes, adding that he was truly sorry for all of the pain and suffering he has brought upon his family – “especially my grandparents.”
He closed by saying, “Please give me a chance to change and get the help that I truly want.”
Wilcox then addressed Klein by saying he could consider the fact the defendant was in a psychotic rage at the time of the incident and that “perhaps” the defendant didn’t understand what he was doing. But even so, Wilcox said the statements Klein made to his grandparents that night and “the fear that you put your grandparents through is just horrific.”
He said he reviewed the letters sent to him by the couple, which made clear they had feelings for their grandson.
However, he said, those feelings did not relinquish the hope they had for the defendant to be sent to prison, not as a punishment, but where he would not have access to drugs or other harmful substances.
Wilcox also said the couple went to great lengths and spent an inordinate amount of money on treatment for the defendant, to the point they would would have run out of money.
“And yet you immediately went back using drugs,” Wilcox said. “That’s so sad.”
Addressing the defendant’s parents, Wilcox explained he had a family member who came “from good parents – good parents,” he said, who served time in federal prison on drug charges and while in custody, the man realized he never wanted to go to prison again. That’s when the inmate made a decision to turn his life around, the judge said, and he has been a contributing member of society since his release.
Wilcox agreed with the state’s position, that an 18-month sentence was not enough time when considering the level of violence demonstrated during the crime.
As such, Wilcox sentenced Klein to serve 1-15 years in Utah State Prison on each count of aggravated assault and also ordered a combined sentence of two years to be served in county jail for the three misdemeanor offenses, all of which were ordered to run concurrently.
Wilcox closed by saying, “And I hope that you’re able to find your way to a life that is drug free.”
The defendant will begin his sentence immediately and a transport order was signed during the hearing.
This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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