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Judge Rejects 30-Year Sentence For Man Who Killed Mom, Son

Christopher Poulson, age 30

AMERICAN FORK, Utah (AP) — A judge has rejected a plea deal for a Utah man who acknowledged killing his girlfriend and her toddler. The deal called for him to get a lesser sentence for helping police find their remains, officials said.

Christopher Poulson pleaded guilty to murder charges in the 2015 deaths of 23-year-old Emily Quijano and 3-year-old Gabriel Almiron. Their remains were discovered in a shallow grave Sept. 6 near the small town of Eureka about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City based on information provided by Poulson, authorities said.

Poulson acknowledged last month that he had been using methamphetamine and drinking alcohol while somehow fatally injuring the boy while babysitting in September 2015, authorities said. Poulson then said he panicked and shot Quijano as she slept before she could discover what had happened.

The deal called for Poulson to receive a maximum of 30 years, prosecutors said. District Judge Robert Lunnen refused to agree to that deal.

“It’s difficult for me as a court to accept a 30-year limit on two very important lives,” Lunnen said.

Quijano and Almiron’s family agreed to the deal so authorities could recover the victims’ bodies, prosecutors said.

“While I won’t say they were 100% unanimous in their full support of this plea, they were in large part in support of it,” said Deputy Utah County Attorney Lance Bastian. “At the end of the day, everyone agreed to it.”

Poulson now faces up to life in prison. A sentencing trial is set for Sept. 26.