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Justin Eilers’ killer goes to jail

As expected, Justin Eilers’s father in law has been convicted of shooting him in the chest during a Christmas gathering - he’ll be sentenced for manslaughter in October. This is actually the lesser charge, as prosecutors were going for second degree murder. What might have made the jury go for the lesser charge (which still carries up to 15 years in jail)? Here was James Robert Malec’s defense:

The defense argued that Malec properly used his former police training to stop a deadly threat last Christmas when he shot and killed his wife’s son, a professional martial arts fighter.

Defense attorney Gordon Petrie made a dramatic presentation to jurors, periodically shouting at full voice to simulate Eilers’ behavior that night. He reminded jurors of Malec’s account – that Eilers loudly threatened to kill Malec and moved toward him before Malec, convinced the angry athlete would kill him, shot Eilers once in the chest.

“Never lose sight of the fact that Justin tried to make a living by pummeling people into submission,” Petrie said.

Deputy Canyon County Prosecutor Scott James said Eilers was unarmed and backing away from Malec when Malec shot him,

“Justin Eilers was acting like a jerk, there’s no question,” James said. “He was ruining Christmas. He was disrespecting the defendant in his own home.

“But he didn’t deserve to die.”

James noted that Malec’s version of events differs widely from the accounts of others who were at the gathering that night, especially Moore.

By some accounts, Moore was standing between the two men and turned to the side just before her husband shot her 30-year-old son. She apparently did not hear Eilers threaten to kill Malec, and she testified that Eilers was backing away from Malec just before the shot rang out.

This whole situation sucks and goes to show you how crazy situations can get when you introduce a handgun into the equation. This family literally self-destructed for no good reason, and now a woman’s son is dead and her husband in jail and a kid no longer has a father.