IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - UPDATE: 3/1/18 Justin C. Sarbaum was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison, two years fixed, on charges of voluntary manslaughter. Sarbaum agreed to plead guilty as part of a plea agreement in February.
Judge Joel Tingey handed down the sentence after listening to four victim impact statements and a brief statement from Sarbaum.
An Idaho Falls man was in court this morning Feb. 27, 2018 to change his plea from guilty to not guilty.
Justin C. Sarbaum accepted a plea agreement in the January 2017 shooting death of his friend, 32-year-old Tyson Tew at Sarbaum's apartment in the 2700 block of St. Clair Road.
The defense argued that Sarbaum did not have enough time to make a decision before accepting the agreement. They say Sarbaum was under stress due to financial constraints for legal fees and they didn’t have access to experts.
The state rebutted by saying an “assertion of innocence” is not a plausible reason to withdraw. He referenced Sarbaum’s response to the pre-sentence investigation report which said he wasn’t happy with the deal but was grateful to not go to jail for an extremely long time.
The defense continued to argue the deadline wasn’t long enough. They said they were told by the judge that if they didn’t make a decision that day then the deal was off of the table. The state responded by saying it is incorrect to focus on deadline.
Judge Tingey said he understood Sarbaum’s anxieties as trial is approaching but ultimately ruled it is not a plausible reason for changing pleas.
According to Idaho Code, voluntary manslaughter carries a penalty of a fine of not more than $15,000 and/or up to 15 years in prison. The weapons enhancement charge is computed by increasing the maximum sentence authorized for the crime by 15 years.
According to court documents, Tew was shot three times after the two men got into a physical altercation at Sarbaum's apartment. The two men and a neighbor were playing a game of darts when Sarbaum claims Tew threw a dart at his foot.
The two got into an extended argument that ended when Sarbaum fired a .22 caliber pistol at Tew. Police found the victim with two bullet wounds. He was shot in the upper right shoulder and in the spine.