Katherine Nesci calmly turned to the man who murdered three members of her family in March and unloaded on him.
“You took my mother’s life. You took my father’s life. You took my brother’s life. Now we take yours. One minute at a time,” Nesci told Adam Dees on Friday in a Boise courtroom, swiping her hands together as if wiping away crumbs.
Those minutes will add up. A judge sentenced Dees, 22, of Nampa, to spend the rest of his life in prison for robbing and killing Ted, Elaine and Thomas Welp six months ago as he stole jewelry, credit cards and other items from their Boise Foothills home.
He is not eligible for parole. Dees agreed not to appeal his conviction or sentence when prosecutors took the death penalty off the table in exchange for his guilty pleas. Eight other burglary, fraud and weapons charges were dropped Friday in exchange for his admission of guilt in the murders and burglary.
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“I think it turned out the best way for the community and the best way for the Welp family,” Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Brian Naugle said.
Ted Welp, 80; his wife, Elaine, 77; and their son Thomas, 52, were shot in the head and struck repeatedly with a wooden baseball bat on March 8 or 9 in their home atop a secluded hill off North Cartwright Road. Thomas Welp was also stabbed with a knife from the front of his neck down to his spine.
“The murders were cold-blooded and especially brutal,” 4th District Judge Sam Hoagland said.
Hoagland sentenced Dees to three life sentences, one for each victim. Then he added 25 years for a robbery charge. He made each sentence consecutive to one another.
Detective Jared Watson of the Ada County Sheriff’s Office told Hoagland that Dees apparently wasn’t in any hurry to leave the house after the killings. Instead, he rummaged around looking for things to steal. He emptied Ted Welp’s wallet, Elaine Welp’s purse and a plastic storage box where she stored her jewelry.
He took a crucifix from the wall above the nightstand on Elaine Welp’s side of the bed and shoved the left crossbar through the wall.
Over the next two days, Dees used the Welps’ credit cards at stores and restaurants in Boise and Mountain Home. He bought a $2,500 TV at an appliance store. He spent $200 on a meal at Boise’s Barbacoa restaurant.
He tossed a suitcase belonging to Ted Welp into a trash bin outside the restaurant. The suitcase contained the shattered baseball bat, three spent bullet shells and Ted and Elaine Welps’ driver’s licenses.
Police found pearl necklaces and several pairs of earrings belonging to Elaine Welp in a bedroom closet of the Nampa house where Dees lived. They recovered Elaine Welp’s diamond wedding ring from a Boise jewelry store.
Dees apologized for his actions Friday before sentencing. “I am sincerely sorry for what I’ve done. If I could take it back, I would,” he said, dressed in a yellow-and-white jail uniform and handcuffed with his arms in front.
Dees at first intended only to rob the Welps, defense attorney Tony Geddes said. Neither police nor prosecutors have ever said why Dees picked the Welps’ home to rob.
While at the home, something horrible happened, Geddes said: “His mind, as he describes it, ‘started to go dark.’”
Prosecutors questioned that. They showed still photographs from surveillance video at a Wal-Mart where Dees on March 8 bought a pair of black gloves, zip ties and the black wooden baseball bat.
Several chunks of wood from that same bat were scattered across the top of the bed where Thomas Welp was killed. His head was bashed in.
“He tortured these people. They were tied up before they were killed and they were beaten,” Naugle said.
Dees joked about the murders in a phone call with his sister from his cell in the Ada County Jail. Naugle questioned whether he had any remorse.
Geddes said his client understands his actions had disastrous consequences.
“He’s trying himself to understand why he took these people’s lives,” Geddes said. “He’ll have a lifetime in prison to answer those questions.”