Ashton Pleads Gulty To Kidnapping Resulting In Death, Firearms Charge In Federal Court In St. George
ST. GEORGE, UT – Paul Ashton, age 34, of St. George, Utah, pleaded guilty to kidnapping resulting in death – aiding and abetting and discharging a firearm – aiding and abetting in relation to a crime of violence Monday afternoon in federal court in St. George in connection with the October 2010 kidnapping and death of Bradley Eitner.
Ashton, who waived indictment, was charged in a two-count Felony Information unsealed Monday afternoon during court proceedings. The first count of the Information charged Ashton with aiding and abetting in the kidnapping resulting in death of Eitner on Oct. 31, 2010. The count alleged Ashton transported the victim from Utah to Arizona where he was killed. The second count alleged Ashton aided and abetted in the use and discharge of a firearm during the kidnapping. Eitner was 43 at the time of his death.
As a part of the plea agreement filed in court Monday afternoon, Ashton admitted that Eitner was at his home in St. George, along with another individual who was not involved in his criminal conduct. Eitner was asleep (passed out) on his couch, according to the plea agreement. Ashton admitted that he and the other individual lifted Eitner off the couch to carry him to Ashton’s truck. Ashton admitted he banged Eitner’s head against the frame of the door at least once. He also admitted placing Eitner in the back of the pick-up truck and slamming the tailgate against Eitner’s head at least once. Ashton and the other individual then drove around with Eitner in the back of the truck, according to the plea agreement.
Ashton admitted the other individual urged him to either take Eitner to a hospital or to the homeless shelter. Ashton admitted he told the other individual he was going to smash Eitner’s head with a rock and beat his head with a shovel. Ashton admitted stopping the pick-up truck, retrieving a rock, and striking Eitner in the head with the rock. Ashton then drove to the other individual’s house, dropped him off, and drove away with Eitner still in the back of the pick-up.
Ashton admitted that during the same night, he drove to the home of an accomplice and the two then drove Eitner to Arizona to a location in the desert with the intention of killing him. According to Ashton, they assisted the victim out of the truck in a secluded, remote location where Ashton’s accomplice shot him twice with a rifle. Ashton admitted that his accomplice pushed Eitner off an embankment and they left him there, hidden in a rock crevice.
Eitner’s body was discovered March 11, 2011, and an autopsy was performed March 14, 2011, by the Coconino County, Arizona, medical examiner. The medical examiner determined that the cause of Eitner’s death was blunt force head trauma and a single penetrating, gunshot wound of the head. The manner of death was homicide.
As a part of the plea agreement executed Monday, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend that the statutory mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison be imposed for the kidnapping resulting in death count of the Information. Prosecutors also agreed to recommend that the statutory minimum sentence of 10 years be imposed for the firearm count and that the sentence be served consecutive to the term of imprisonment for the first count. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and investigated by the FBI.