Burley man sentenced to life in prison for killing transmission shop owner

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BURLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — A judge sentenced a Burley man Friday to life in prison after killing a business owner in December 2017.

Luis Gabriel Ponce must serve 28 years in prison before he is eligible for parole after pleading guilty to first degree murder in February 2018. All other charges were dropped.

Ponce was ordered to pay restitution to the victim restitution program.

The Cassia County Sheriff’s Office arrested Ponce in December after 58-year-old Christopher A. Fassett was found shot twice.

Luis Ponce stood before a Cassia County judge as he was sentenced for first degree murder.

"Again I wish I had something profound to say because this is a senseless crime that has effected the entire community,” said Judge Michael Tribe. “The defendant knows what he has in front of him and it is not all sitting in a cell so hopefully he can find a productive use of his time.”

Luis Ponce will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the December 2017 murder of Christopher Fassett. Fassett was Ponce’s previous employer. Ponce went to confront Fassett over money where he later fatally shot him, once in the stomach then in the head.

Ponce and the prosecution were able to come to a plea agreement during mediation, which the judge upheld.

Cassia County Prosecutors praised the sheriff's office for the success in getting the conviction.

"He had an initial story that was different than what actually happened,” said county prosecuting attorney Douglas Abenroth. “With that evidence and all the pieces of it we were able to bring him to the point that he knew we had enough to charge him and prosecute him and ultimately convict him at that point Mr. Ponce made the decision to come forward and come clean as to what he did.”

Ponce will be able to go before the parole board in 28 years, at that time he will be 50 years old.

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