At trial, Brandon T. Bahr testified that he fatally shot Zacheriah Peterson, 21, in self-defense outside the Boise Depot. He said he had no other choice.
The jury that convicted Bahr, 24, of first-degree murder didn’t buy his story. Neither did Ada County District Judge Patrick Owen, who on Friday sentenced Bahr to 25 years to life.
“I want to be clear: This is a case of premeditated, intentional murder,” Owen said.
Bahr was in a romantic relationship with a woman for about two years before it ended. The woman began seeing Peterson but contacted Bahr last fall to say she might be pregnant by him. On Sept. 23, she told him she was not pregnant. Bahr became upset and sent a series of angry text messages, including one where he threatened Peterson’s life.
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The two men agreed to meet later that day at the Depot, where Bahr, wearing a bandana to hide his face, pulled out a stolen handgun and shot Peterson to death.
“He ambushed Zacheriah Peterson. He thought he was going there for a confrontation, a fistfight at most,” Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Heather Reilly said. “The defendant had no intention of fighting or confronting verbally Zacheriah Peterson. He went there to kill him and he did.”
Peterson’s mother, Rhonda Blanton, said prosecutors had offered Bahr a deal before trial that would have resulted in a sentence of 25 years to life, but he rejected it.
“In doing so, he literally dragged myself and my family through hell,” Blanton told Owen.
That bullet that hit my brother’s heart also destroyed the hearts of me and my family.
Judy Hunter, sister of Zacheriah Peterson
Peterson’s father, Troy Peterson, said he lost an older son 20 years ago and the loss never gets any easier.
“How can any decision made be considered fair or just? The defendant, he still has his eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to touch, a voice to be heard, and, of course, memories to be made,” Troy Peterson said. “I pray one day that the God I serve will give me the ability to forgive you and turn my anger into humble kindness.”
In addition to the murder charge, Bahr was convicted of felony grand theft in stealing the gun from his mother’s boyfriend, and of misdemeanor petit theft.
Reilly sought a minimum sentence of 40 years, while defense attorney Brian Marks asked that his client be given a sentence of 10 years to life.
Marks said his client understood that no matter the sentence, Peterson’s family would not be satisfied. He told Owen that Bahr said if he was in their shoes, he would feel the same way.
“If you have an individual who is able to place himself in the shoes of the victim’s family and understand where they’re coming from and acknowledge their hate and the distraction he has caused on their family, a 40-year prison sentence is not necessary,” Marks said.
Bahr apologized for taking away a “young man who didn’t need to die.” He said he was sorry.
“I wish I could take it back. I wish it wouldn’t have happened. But I know I can’t,” Bahr said. “I feel remorse every day of my life.”