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Kelly Flowers is paralyzed by the same thought each morning her brother is dead.
She hides under the sheets, going through what feels like a grocery list before she can get out of bed: He's not coming back, he'll never meet his 2-year-old son, he didn't deserve that.
It's an everyday routine that starts as soon as she opens her eyes. Flowers hasn't been able to shake it since 34-year-old Cleat Knight was killed three years ago this month. His body, punctured by two bullets, was found two months later under snow drifts near Snowbasin ski resort.
But Flowers hopes her mind will be quieted now that the man accused of firing the first shot in the execution-style slaying of Knight, 38-year-old Christopher Leech, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"I think he should spend the rest of his life in a cage," Flowers said during a Wednesday sentencing hearing.
A 3rd District Court jury convicted Leech in September of aggravated murder, obstruction of justice and two counts each of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, all first degree felonies.
Leech kidnapped Knight and Andrew Beck and emptied their pockets on Nov. 23, 2013, because Knight had previously been late returning from a drug deal involving contacts of Beck's ex-girlfriend, Tina Maxine Soules, who is also charged in the case.
With bound hands and hoods over their heads, the two men were ushered into a car and driven to a remote hilltop in Weber County. Leech then walked Knight and Beck to a snowy area and forced them to sit on a rocky outcrop. Their hoods were cut open, revealing a moonlit mountain panorama, and Leech fired a single shot. Knight dropped to the ground.
Also charged is Theron "T.J." Myore, 45, who allegedly drove the group to the scene of the shooting. Myore has an April trial date.
A jury in April 2015 convicted Viliamu "Juice" Seumanu, who acted as an accomplice to Leech, of first-degree felony murder, two counts of first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping and one count of second-degree felony obstruction of justice. Seumanu, 44, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
At Leech's sentencing on Wednesday, defense attorney Patrick Corum contended that Leech was no more responsible than the other parties, noting that Myore or Seumanu could have stopped the murder at its inception. Soules, 44, has pleaded guilty to second-degree felony counts of manslaughter and kidnapping, and is scheduled for sentencing in December.
"All of these people were as culpable as Mr. Leech nobody more, nobody less," Corum said.
Corum also questioned the truthfulness of some of those who testified, Beck in particularly, saying it at times seemed to contradict police records. Corum asked that Leech be sentenced to prison, but given the possibility of parole down the road for good behavior.
"His life still potentially has value," Corum said. "He can still rehabilitate himself. He can take the steps to redemption."
The prosecution asked for the maximum penalty, given Leech's 23 years in the criminal justice system since the 1990s, including an attempted homicide charge as a juvenile. Prosecutor Vincent Meister called the homicide a "premeditated, cold, calculated execution."
Meister contended that Leech was the group's ringleader, and rehabilitation for such a "brutal" criminal isn't possible.
"We have cases where good people make horrendous choices," Meister said. "That's not what we have before us today. Chris Leech is not a good person. He's an evil person."
Judge Randall Skanchy said there was no "good explanation for the level of cruelty and depravity" Leech exhibited in killing Knight. Skanchy ordered life without parole for Leech "the individual most responsible" as well as $850 in restitution to be paid to Knight's family.
Skanchy also dismissed a pending case against Leech for second-degree felony aggravated assault by prisoner, stemming from an August 2014 incident.
Though Flowers was happy with the sentence, she didn't hesitate to address Leech inside the courtroom Wednesday. As he sat in a yellow prison jumpsuit and averted his eyes, she towered over him.
"You just sit there and yawn and act arrogant like you have no feelings," she said, wiping her eyes with a crumpled tissue. "It's something we'll never get over. It's something you don't comprehend."
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