Saario off to prison for 25-40 years

CRYSTAL FALLS — Alfred Saario, 66, of Alpha, sat silently Thursday morning during his murder sentence hearing. On August 18th, a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder and discharging a firearm in or at a building in the death of his stepdaughter, Jamie Lee James, 29, on June 29th, 2016 at his residence in Alpha.

Saario’s attorney, Donald Powell, asked Judge Mary Berglund to sentence his client to the recommended minimum of 15 years in prison because of his age.

“If you kill somebody without premeditation, then you should have the opportunity to show that you’ve been rehabilitated and that you can be a good member of the public,” he said. “If Mr. Saario lives that long, he would have a chance to be paroled.”

Saario was originally charged with open murder. Although she did not get the first-degree conviction she asked the jury for during the trial, Iron County Prosecutor Melissa Powell did not hold back during her chance to address the court.

“He wasn’t thinking he was 65 (years old) at the time he committed this defense,” said Ms. Powell. “He was thinking about himself and the quickest, easiest way to eliminate his problem. When he shot himself, he wasn’t thinking of remorse; he shot himself because he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Before his sentence was handed down, Saario’s attorney read a statement on behalf of him.

“I apologize to my wife and the court for my actions. I know nothing can bring Jamie or ease the pain my wife went through. I just ask for the mercy of the court that I may have hope for release someday,” Mr. Powell read.

That hope of being paroled from prison won’t happen for a long time. Judge Berglund sentenced Saario to 25 to 40 years in prison on the second-degree murder charge.

“This was not an act of self-defense and the sooner you realize it and accept responsibility for what you did, the sooner you can begin healing,” she said.