Ohlson to be sentenced Friday

May 9, 2019

Erik Ohlson’s sentencing will go on as scheduled despite efforts to postpone it.

In Teton County (Idaho) District Court this morning, Ohlson’s attorneys, Jim Archibald and John Thomas, argued that factual mistakes and opinionated statements in the presentence report and contact between the prosecuting attorney and the presentence investigator warranted striking the report from the record. Doing so, Archibald said during today’s motions hearing, would necessitate the drafting of a new presentence report and a continuation of Friday’s scheduled sentencing.

“We renew our request for a new presentence report, one not influenced by the prosecuting attorney’s office,” Archibald said in court. “We believe that due to cherry picking of evidence, a new report should be prepared.”

Ohlson, who pleaded guilty in February to the July 2016 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Nalley, who was pregnant, reached a plea deal with the state of Idaho that removed the death penalty from his potential sentence. He will face at least 10 years in prison, though he could be sentenced to life behind bars.

His attorneys had hoped to delay the sentencing, set for 9 a.m. Friday, but Judge Bruce Pickett was not swayed by their objections to the presentence investigation, saying it was his job to parse the facts of the case and the victim impact statements submitted during sentencing.

“The court has the obligation to … put weight on things the court thinks are important,” Pickett said.

In light of his authority to recognize opinionated statements and consider them as such, Pickett kept many of the things Ohlson’s lawyers wanted removed, though he agreed with a couple of their objections. One was a comment in the report that stated any sentence other than continued jail time “would be unconscionable.” Pickett struck it as irrelevant because Ohlson faces a minimum sentence of 10 years, meaning he will inevitably face continued jail time.

Another was a mental health assessment conducted as part of the presentence investigation that both Ohlson’s lawyers and Teton County (Idaho) Prosecuting Attorney Billie Siddoway deemed surprising and unnecessary. One last thing Pickett struck was part of Nalley’s mother’s victim impact statement in which she read letters from her daughter’s friends and family, citing that they could be admitted as standalone pieces but they did not belong as part of the statement.

However, Pickett did allow the bulk of Nancy Nalley’s impact statement to be shown during sentencing. Friday’s proceeding will feature defense and prosecution witnesses, as well as victim impact statements, before Pickett sentences Ohlson. It starts at 9 a.m., and Pickett told the courtroom that he had “blocked off the whole day.”