Sivak sentencing, day 3: Judge orders life in prison without parole

jsowell@idahostatesman.comAugust 28, 2013 

— Lacey Sivak will serve a life sentence in prison without any chance of parole for killing a gas station clerk in Garden City in 1981.

Ada County Fourth District Judge Ron Wilper sentenced Sivak on Wednesday afternoon following a three-day sentencing hearing.

It's the fifth time Sivak has been sentenced for the death of Dixie Wilson. Four past death sentences were all overturned on appeal, leaving prosecutors to re-establish the facts of the case and bring in surviving witnesses this week, three decades after the murder was committed.

Sivak's new sentence matches the life sentence given to his co-defendant, Randall Bainbridge, after the initial trial.

Wilper told Sivak, 54, he didn't believe him when Sivak told him he was innocent of robbing the station, shooting Wilson five times in the head and stabbing her 20 times.

"Any lesser sentence would depreciate the seriousness of this crime," Wilper said.

Wilper noted that Wilson's husband Harry and their three children continue to suffer three decades after the murder.

"The conduct in this case has caused harm, irreparable harm," Wilper said. "It continues to harm them today."

Several of Wilson's relatives started to hug each other as they heard Wilper's decision. Seated between his attorneys, Sivak did not show any emotion.

Wilson's family said they were happy with the decision.

"I don't know what to say. I'm glad it's over," Harry Wilson said.

He said Sivak's trial and the four subsequent resentencings following appeals have taken its toll on the family.

"We've had to relive this over and over again," he said.

SIVAK SPEAKS

Before sentencing, Sivak addressed Wilper for nearly 2 1/2 hours on Wednesday.

Sivak, who was fired from the gas station a few months earlier, denied killing Wilson and blamed Bainbridge for carrying out the attack.

"There was no vendetta against Dixie," Sivak told Wilper. "I didn't have any desire to harm Dixie."

At the time of the murder, Sivak said, he was recovering from having a cyst removed and was taking double the maximum dosage of the prescription painkiller he was given.

"Drugs and me don't get along," he said.

He said he recalled going inside the Chinden Boulevard station with Bainbridge.

"That's when he pulled out the gun and did the crime. I had no idea the crime was going to take place," Sivak said.

He did not say how Bainbridge obtained the .22-caliber gun that fired the shots that killed Wilson. Testimony from this week's three-day sentencing hearing and from the prior 1981 trial revealed that a couple of weeks before the murder, Sivak stole the gun from a hardware store where his mother worked.

After the murder, the gun was found in a storage locker rented by Sivak. His fingerprint was the only one found on the weapon.

Those statements came 95 minutes after Sivak began addressing Wilper. Before that, he spoke about his childhood living on U.S. Air Force bases in Germany and in the United States.

He said he spent a year and a half in the Idaho state penitentiary for a series of gas station robberies before being paroled early.

He said he never tried to conceal his involvement in those crimes.

"When I did a crime, I confessed to the crime," he said.

Sivak began his address by asking Wilper to suppress news coverage of his statement, saying he planned to share information that could compromise Idaho and national security if it was shared publicly. But Wilper said he found that hard to believe and that he could not prevent the public from listening to Sivak, or a reporter from taking photos of or taping his address.

"This is a court of record," Wilper said. "Everything that is said here is open to the public."

After speaking for nearly 2 1/2 hours, Sivak concluded by reiterating that he did not kill Wilson.

"I didn't like her personally, but that doesn't mean I meant her any harm," Sivak told Wilper.

"I've never taken a life and I didn't feel I could do anything or I would have been dead, too."

He said he understood the anger toward him from Wilson's family.

"Deep down, I think they will always blame me, at least in part," he said.

SENTENCING OPTIONS

Defense attorney Elisa Massoth wanted her client to receive credit for the 32 years he's served in prison so far.

Massoth asked Wilper to impose an indeterminate sentence for Sivak, which could also provide for his possible release on parole.

He would not be released from prison unless the Idaho Commission on Pardons and Parole voted to release him. He would also have to develop a plan for living in the outside world that would show his commitment to following the law and any conditions imposed on him.

Massoth told Wilper that the Rev. Phil Falk, who testified Tuesday and who has served as Sivak's spiritual adviser for the past 22 years, put it best when he told the court there was a time for compassion.

"That time is now," Massoth said.

Earlier Wednesday, Roger Bourne — Ada County's chief deputy prosecutor — recapped the morning of the murder, saying Wilson endured five shots to the head, 20 stab wounds to the head and right shoulder and still wouldn't die on April 6, 1981.

Crumpled on the ground, surrounded by a pool of blood, Wilson gasped for breath and wouldn't die until after she was brought to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

"This was a rage killing," Bourne told Fourth District Ada County Judge Ron Wilper. "This was done by someone who didn't like her."

Bourne said convicted murderer Lacey Sivak looked to rob the Baird Oil station on Chinden Boulevard and to kill Wilson in revenge for him getting fired from the station a few months earlier.

A week before the murder, Bourne said, Sivak and another man tailed a company courier who brought cash and checks from other stations to the Chinden location. Bourne said Sivak and co-defendant Randall Bainbridge planned to ambush the courier and kill Wilson.

At the end of his 45-minute address, Bourne asked for a life sentence.

"He's the same dangerous person he was then," Bourne said of Sivak. "Fixed life is for the worst of the worst. This is among the worst murders I have seen."

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