DRIGGS — Erik Ohlson was sentenced Friday to 25 years fixed for the 2016 murder of Driggs resident Jennifer Nalley.
The sentencing came after two days of testimony in the Teton County Courthouse.
Judge Bruce Pickett sentenced Ohlson on the count of murder in first degree to life in prison with a minimum of 25 years and for the count of voluntary manslaughter, Judge Pickett sentenced Ohlson 10 fixed up to 15 years with the sentences to run concurrent. Ohlson must serve at least 25 years before he is eligible for parole.”There are some things beyond dispute,” said Pickett just before issuing his sentence. “That night you sent a text saying you were going to kill Jennifer Nalley. You loaded up a pistol and you were drinking. You drove from Jackson over the pass. It’s clear you drove to Jennifer Nalley’s house and walked up to her house with a loaded pistol and shot her. It’s clear that you murdered Jennifer Nalley that night. It’s clear you drove away and crashed your car. It doesn’t matter what was texted or said to you. It doesn’t matter what was said to you. You did not have the right to take lives.”
The courtroom was again full on the second day of the sentencing hearings as both the defense and the Teton County Prosecutor Billie Siddoway called witnesses to the stand prior to the sentencing.
Siddoway called Idaho State Police Detective Matt Wall whose testimony largely recounted the evening that Nalley was murdered at her grandparents’ home in Driggs. The defense objected multiple times to the showing of images from the crime scene and of Ohlson’s arrest the evening of the crime, but was overruled. Siddoway had Wall read text messages from Ohlson one of which read, “I’m praying for a miscarriage or an abortion. If not one of us will wind up dead.”
Other correspondence suggested that Ohlson wished for Nalley’s death and that he would be the one to murder her.
The defense called two members of Ohlson’s family including his mother, Virginia Ohlson, and his sister, Kristin Ohlson. As Virginia testified Friday morning, Kristin sat in the back of the courtroom quietly crying while some members of the Jackson Hole Roller Derby team, of which Nalley was a member, sat in front of Ohlson’s family wiping away tears.
Family and friends of Nalley sat in the courtroom, some wearing T-shirts with a photo of Nalley that read, “Remembering Jennifer Nalley Forever.”
The defense worked to convince the court that Ohlson should receive the minimum sentence of 10 years.
Jennifer Nalley’s parents watched the proceeding via Skype. A victim impact statement was presented through the Victim Advocate of Bingham County, Susan Nalley — no relation to the victim’s family — and then a video was presented of Nancy and Jack Nalley, Jennifer’s parents.
”I spent a lot of hours thinking about this,” said Jack on the large screen in front of the courtroom. “I’m not a well-educated man. I was never a man of many words, so trying to verbalize the impact of my only daughter, the first grandchild, my best friend, my favorite person on the planet — it’s hard. The senselessness of it, I just don’t comprehend it. There is nothing but sadness. I never thought an old guy like me could cry as much as I do.”
Both Jack and Nancy asked life in prison for Ohlson without the possibility of parole.
Archibald teared up at the end of the argument and said, “It’s my responsible and my obligation,” to do all that he can for his client as he continued to ask for the minimum sentence for Ohlson. John Thomas stood and asked for mercy for his client.
Siddoway said in her closing argument that the court impose the maximum punishment of 15 years for the death of the unborn baby and fixed term of 40 years for the death of Nalley.
“I’ve done something that I can’t take back,” Ohlson said just before sentencing. “It’s insignificant. Saying I’m sorry will never be enough. No matter the remorse or regret I’m ashamed of myself and ashamed of my actions.”