PRESCOTT – Jasper Rushing, the Chino Valley man who shot and killed his stepfather in January, pleaded guilty to a first-degree murder charge Monday morning.
Rushing, 21, told Yavapai County Superior Court Judge William Kiger that he shot his stepfather, Rudy Gutierrez, in the head with a 20-gauge shotgun while he was sleeping.
Rushing also pleaded guilty to endangerment. He told the judge he endangered the life of Gutierrez's wife, Toni, because she was sleeping next to him when he fired the shotgun. Gutierrez and Rushing's mother divorced prior to the incident and he remarried.
"She was not actually injured," said Linda Moore, Rushing's attorney.
Kiger asked Rushing if he thought about killing Gutierrez before he got and loaded the shotgun.
"Yes," Rushing said. "(I thought about it) since I was a little kid."
Court records indicate Rushing told police he killed Gutierrez because he allegedly sexually molested a family member.
Rushing faces 25 years to life in prison. As part of the plea agreement, the state will not consider his prior record – making him eligible for parole. Rushing pleaded guilty to theft and possession of drug paraphernalia in January 1999.
As a result of the plea agreement, the judge dismissed several other charges against Rushing that stemmed from the Jan. 20 incident.
The original charges against Rushing included unlawful use of a means of transportation, criminal damage, theft, armed burglary, kidnapping, endangerment and first-degree murder.
Moore said her client did not go to trial because there was never a question of guilt.
Rushing called 911 and told the dispatchers he shot and killed his stepfather right after he did it. He also waited for Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies to arrive on the scene and surrendered himself without incident.
"He's never denied being involved in it," Moore said. "And he's remorseful."
She said if a jury convicted Rushing of all of the charges against him, the judge could have sentenced him to more than a lifetime in prison.
"This way he'll have a chance of getting out in 25 years," she said.
Kiger scheduled Rushing's sentencing for 2:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15.
Contact C. Murphy Hébert at firstname.lastname@example.org