SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The children of a municipal enforcement officer shot and set afire by a man with a history of code violations recounted through tears and clenched fists Monday what their mother would have wanted them to say as he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“I wish that monster would have just shot himself in the head and spared the world heartache,” said Jessica Knorr, the eldest daughter of Jill Robinson.
Kevin Wayne Billings, 65, was stoic as a parade of relatives and co-workers spoke about the void Robinson’s death left in their lives. He pleaded in February to murder, arson and cruelty to animals.
“I wish he gave my mom a fighting chance, because she’s strong,” Knorr said.
Billings’ attorney Nick Falcone said his client was “not well enough” to speak, but read a statement on his behalf.
“I can’t believe how stupid I am, I took somebody’s life, and I can’t believe I have caused so much pain,” Billings wrote.
Billings killed Robinson in August 2018 after what he considered years of harassment over laws requiring cleanup of trash and weeds outside his West Valley City, Utah, home, authorities say.
Robinson, 52, typically dealt with complaints about unkempt yards or abandoned cars. Code enforcement officers are trained to leave and call police if people get hostile.
Billings poured gasoline on Robinson’s pickup truck and set it ablaze after shooting her, police said. They said he also started a fire on his neighbor’s deck, destroying the home and killing six dogs and two cats.
A group of Robinson’s co-workers attended the hearing in their uniforms, sporting blue ribbons with her portrait on them. One, Yumi Young, addressed Billings directly.
“Saying ‘hello’ to her memorial is not the same as seeing your friend and saying good morning,” Young said.
Another co-worker, Marco Patino, accused Billings of smiling during their testimonies.
“I’m not smiling,” Billings responded. It was the only time he spoke.
Several members of Billings’ close-knit family, which includes seven children and 11 grandchildren, sat silent. They recalled Robinson’s strength and warmth, noting that when her brother Jaren was diagnosed with leukemia, Robinson underwent painful procedures to donate life-saving stem cells.
“Nobody will ever know the heartache and the pain that we are still suffering because of a vial act of one person who decided to be judge and jury for my daughter,” said her mother, Ronny Robinson.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com