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Kenneth Sharp had so many memories of the Murray home where he grew up with his brother.
But on Jan. 25, 2014, those memories became tainted, he told a Salt Lake City judge on Tuesday.
On that day, he walked through the home and saw the gruesome aftermath of the murder of his mother, 84-year-old Shirley Sharp. He saw her blood smeared and spattered throughout her home. He saw that her belongings were missing. He saw the smoke damage caused by the killer, Christen James Spencer, who had set the house ablaze in an attempt to cover up the crime.
On Tuesday, during Spencer's sentencing hearing, Kenneth Sharp told a judge he wants to forgive the man who beat and strangled his mother, but he can't.
"My heart is broken," he said. "I feel too much pain, anger and disgust."
Spencer, 50, pleaded guilty in November to first-degree felony aggravated murder in Sharp's death, agreeing to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The plea agreement spared Spencer the possibility of the death penalty.
Third District Judge Randall Skanchy followed the agreement Tuesday, sentencing the defendant to spend the rest of his life at the Utah State Prison.
One by one, members of Sharp's family her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren stood and told Skanchy about the woman whom they all cherished. They talked about her kindness, her thoughtfulness, her gentleness. Her love of writing, cooking, gardening and pottery. She was a healthy woman who still had many years left in her life, they said.
While they remembered Shirley Sharp fondly, the family hurled harsh words at Spencer, who stared ahead and showed little emotion throughout the hearing. They called him a coward, a "wisp of a man," a parasite who destroyed their family. Some said Spencer deserved to die for what he did.
Spencer said nothing at the hearing, offering an apology through a statement read in court by his attorney.
"Shirley was a good person who only deserved good things in life," the statement read. "I'm deeply sorry for what I did and I realize that saying sorry doesn't cut it."
After the hearing, the Sharp family said the sentencing did not bring them much closure, though they are glad the case is finished.
"Nothing is going to bring our mother back," Kenneth Sharp said. "We're all going to feel that loss for many years to come … Things aren't going to be better for us just because this is over."
Spencer was facing six other charges one each of aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated arson and failure to stop at the command of police but they were dropped as part of the plea deal.
Shirley Sharp was found dead in her home her body beaten and bound by firefighters responding to a police officer's report that smoke was coming from the residence, 20 E. Winchester St. (6400 South), in Murray.
Police were at the home investigating a suspicious incident involving the driver of a 1991 Buick LeSabre registered to Sharp, court papers say.
Charging documents say Spencer was driving Sharp's car when he was stopped in the early hours of Jan. 25 by a Utah Transit Authority officer for driving in a bus-only zone. Spencer fled the stop and UTA contacted Murray police. Police were later able to identify Spencer as the man driving Sharp's car from security camera footage.
Court papers say firefighters found the back door of Sharp's home had been partially pushed open and a window was broken. A Murray fire marshal also determined the blaze smoldering inside a bedroom closet had been intentionally set.
Kenneth Sharp said in court Tuesday that his mother was tied up, had been hit 17 times with a tire iron and was strangled with a nylon stocking.
An autopsy report showed Shirley Sharp died from blunt force trauma to the head.
At the place where Spencer was living, police found property missing from Sharp's home, including a sweatshirt with traces of Sharp's DNA inside the neck and on the right-hand sleeve, court papers say.
Sharp was a well-known resident of Winchester Street. She and her late husband, Richard, moved there in 1952. Richard Sharp and his brother Virgil once owned Sharp Foods, a grocery store located across the street from their home, which is now occupied by a strip mall. The store closed in the mid-1970s, around the same time that Richard Sharp passed away from cancer, according to Sharp's nephew R.D. Gatherum.