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Man sentenced for Matthew Holt’s Easter-Sunday murder: 'The grief is absolutely crushing'

“The grief is absolutely crushing,” Man sentenced for Matthew Holt’s Easer-Sunday murder. (File photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) – A judge asked a Salt Lake courtroom to sit in silence for 20 seconds Thursday morning – the same amount of time it took Jeffery Shepherd to kill Matthew Holt on Easter Sunday earlier this year.

Shepherd will now spend 15-years-to-life in prison for the murder that Judge James Blanch called “despicable”

“Society deserves to be protected from you,” Blanch told Shepherd prior to announcing the sentence.

Shepherd, 36, robbed Holt, 46, as Holt sat in his car near Oxbow Park around 1:30 p.m. on April 15.

Prosecutors told the court that Shepherd was a meth user and robbed Holt of cash before firing a gun into Holt’s head at close range.

According to prosecutors, Shepherd collected the bullet casing, which he later melted down, and ditched the gun in a McDonald’s dumpster.

Police later collected evidence to suggest Shepherd randomly targeted Holt.

20 minutes before the robbery and shooting, prosecutors said Shepherd downloaded a police scanner app. Surveillance video of the incident also showed Shepherd approach Holt’s car with his hand under his sleeve, which according to prosecutors suggested he was trying to keep his fingerprints off Holt’s car.

One of the only leads South Salt Lake Police had in the case was the surveillance video of Shepherd’s Chevy Sonic. An off-duty officer located the car weeks later in Tooele County.

Shepherd was arrested and eventually charged with Holt’s murder.

Shepherd accepted a plea agreement in October. At Tuesday’s sentencing, Judge Blanch told Shepherd he will spend at least 15 years in prison before a parole board could consider parole proceedings.

Defense attorneys for Shepherd told Judge Blanch that Shepherd was a meth user and his judgement was impaired by his drug use at the time of the murder.

“The effects of this terrible drug have played the biggest role in what has happened here,” attorney Heather Chestnut said. “Shepherd knows that nothing he could ever do will change what has happened.”

Shepherd spoke briefly in court and apologized to the Holt family.

“I’m truly sorry,” Shepherd said.

Holt’s mother, Maxine Holt, told Judge Blanch her son’s murder “broke her heart.”

“Others cannot totally understand the sickening feeling I experience and I will continue to experience the rest of my life when people ask how my son died,” Holt told the courtroom. “The grief is absolutely crushing.”

Matthew Holt spent his life dealing with several medical conditions. His mother said Matthew was at Primary Children’s Hospital for much of his childhood.

“After having had 35 surgeries, all kind of health problems … he beat the odds. He did nothing wrong and he met this tragic end,” Judge Blanch said.

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