The man who killed former Gardnerville resident Lacee Shupe was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole, according to Shupe’s mother.
Robert Michael Owens Jr., 43, was sentenced in Washoe District Court on Friday after admitting charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder of the home’s owner in early November shortly before he was scheduled to go to trial.
According to prosecutor Luke Prengaman, Owens was being evicted on July 1, 2013, because he couldn’t pay rent. Owens attacked the landlord with a hatchet as the victim lay in bed that morning, and then turned the weapon on Lacee, who had been awakened by the attack.
Lacee’s mother, Sandy Shupe, spoke at the sentencing hearing on Friday
“He pleaded guilty to everything,” Shupe said on Monday. “I was happy that I didn’t have to listen to the gruesome details. It was the best justice we could get out of this. If we’d gone to trial there was always the chance there would be a juror who would feel sorry for him.”
Owens received life without parole in Lacee’s murder and 11-40 years for the attempted murder of the landlord, who was the person he’d originally intended to kill, Shupe said.
“Justice did prevail for Lacee,” she said. “I don’t think he’ll ever get out of prison.”
Shupe said she felt relieved at the end of the proceedings in her daughter’s death.
“I absolutely feel relieved,” she said. “I will always miss her and love her and think about her every day, but I won’t have to see him anymore.”
Shupe attended every hearing over the course of more than a year.
“I wanted him to see my face every time he walked into the courtroom,” she said. My family came in from Montana for the sentencing, which went well. He said he pleaded guilty for the family, but I think he did it so he didn’t have to face what he did. He did it for himself. He couldn’t bear to look at the pictures.”
Shupe said she is still collecting donations for a scholarship in Lacee’s name. She said people can bring her the check made out to Douglas High School, or bring it to the school for the Lacee Shupe Memorial Scholarship.
Lacee was a member of Future Farmers of America at Douglas.
At Owens’ sentencing, Shope told the judge that Owens sentenced her to a life without her daughter.
“Lacee got a life sentence for doing absolutely nothing,” she said. “I got a life sentence without Lacee. It breaks my heart to know the fear and panic she mush have felt when she saw someone standing there with a hatchet.”
Owens’ attorneys argued that he should receive concurrent sentences because he pleaded guilty to the charges.
Prengaman argued that Owens should receive consecutive sentences due to the brutality of the crimes. District Judge Lidia Stiglich agreed.