On May 15, Judge Steven L. Schultz imposed a 42-year prison sentence on Nathan Yager in the Delta District Court.
On March 20, a verdict of guilty was returned against Yager on the charge of second degree murder of his wife, Melinda Yager. The trial was the second in this case. Evidence was presented by an expert witness, family and friends, and by members of law enforcement.
At the sentencing hearing, Dale Tackett, Melinda's father, and Matt Tackett, her twin brother, each addressed the judge. Melinda's two sisters submitted written statements which were read in open court by Dale and Matt Tackett. Yager, his mother and a friend addressed the court. DA Dan Hotsenpiller addressed the court on behalf of the people and deputy state public defender Kori Keil spoke on behalf of the defendant.
The sentence imposed includes a period of five years on parole, credit of 2,685 days for time Yager has been in custody since Jan. 7, 2011, and restitution of $16,396.24.
Judge Schultz also denied Yager's request to modify the mandatory protection order to allow him contact with his child. The judge indicated such a modification would not be in the best interests of the minor child. Judge Schultz told Yager it would be up to the minor child whether or not she has contact with him. If there is any future contact between the minor child and Yager, it will need to be monitored and managed by professionals in order to assist the child with trauma due to the death of her mother and imprisonment of her father.
Hotsenpiller said, "The people wish to express their sincere appreciation and gratitude to the family of Melinda Yager and her friends who testified and provided support. This has been a difficult experience for them and for the entire Paonia community."
He expressed appreciation to the law enforcement officers from all of the different agencies that were involved and testified, including Paonia Police Department, Delta County Sheriff's Office and CBI, and to the trial team of the district attorney's office, specifically, first assistant AG Janet Drake, deputy district attorney Aubrey Vila, victim/witness coordinator Aimee English and chief investigator Duane Morton.
A collaborative effort between the Delta County Sheriff's Office and municipal law enforcement agencies throughout Delta County has resulted in a proposal for a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund public safety. A PowerPoint presentation titled "Back the Badge" is starting to make the rounds at city/town council meetings, service club luncheons and other events.