Roy Edwin Thrasher was sentenced to life in the Nevada State Prison without the possibility of parole for his part in the January 1998 murder of Carson City resident Jerry Hobson.
In a case that District Court Judge Michael Griffin called the "most inexplicable killing I have ever seen," Hobson's family said Friday that they can start putting the pieces back together knowing that the killers will never set foot outside of prison walls.
Thrasher and his brother, Danny Harper, 20 and 21 years old at the time of their arrests, were both convicted of murdering Hobson over an alleged drug debt and disagreement about ownership of a wristwatch. In February, Harper was sentenced to two consecutive life terms without parole.
Thrasher was stone-faced and silent during the hearing, opting not to make a statement, while family members talked about Hobson's life and the anguish that they have had to live with since his death.
"What you did was put a hole in our hearts and our souls by killing my brother needlessly and senselessly," said Michael Hobson. "I've known my brother for 40 years and all I have to remember him by is what you and your brother did."
Hobson's sister Luella Stasulot agreed.
"I hope today will be the end of the nightmare," she said. "So we can get through the final stage of justice and finally get some closure."
On Jan. 25, 1998, the night of the murder, a disagreement about the ownership of a watch valued at $10 angered Harper, who then went to Reno where he picked up his brother and a gun. After they returned to Mound House, where Hobson was housesitting, they brought him to Goni Canyon and killed him on a remote dirt road.
The first three gunshots, each of which would have been fatal on its own according to expert testimony, were fired by Thrasher, and one more shot was fired by Harper. They then dragged the body about 40 feet and hid it under a bush.
The body remained missing for 70 days until an anonymous call to Hobson's father, Jerry Sr., revealed its location.
In a taped interview with investigators, Thrasher confessed to knowledge of intimate details of the crime including the location of the incident, timing and sequence of events, the type of clothes the victim was wearing, and number of shots fired.
The Thrasher trial's long delay - his conviction comes exactly eight months after Harper's - was due in part to an evaluation of his mental status at Lakes Crossing Center for the Mentally Disordered Offender in Sparks. He was found competent to stand trial.
In a plea bargain with prosecutors, Thrasher agreed to plead guilty to principle to murder, a less serious charge than murder with a deadly weapon. The deadly weapons charge can carry an additional life sentence, like that handed down for Harper.
Lou Boyer, father of Thrasher and Harper, was bothered by the judge's decision to deny the possibility of parole.
"In Griffin's way of thinking, he has removed these two guys for society's benefit," he said. "But who says he'll be the same person in 20 years.
"Just because he gets the possibility of parole doesn't mean he will be paroled."
He added that the killers had a motive for the murder (a $1000 drug debt mentioned in earlier proceedings), therefore they should have been given a chance to reform themselves.
In her closing statements to the hourlong proceeding, Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne Langer, the prosecutor who negotiated Thrasher's guilty plea, pointed to the reckless disregard to life that Thrasher and Harper showed in the commission of the crime.
"He (Thrasher) didn't even give Jerry a fighting chance," she said. "He turned around and Roy Thrasher shot him three times."
"Even now, every time I see somebody who looks like him, it makes me stop and take another look just to make sure," said Laverne Hobson, Jerry's mother. "There's just something in your heart that breaks.
"A son is not meant to go before his parent. It's not the natural order of things."