Idaho Falls
49° F

Man sentenced for killing wife

Published On: Mar 12 2013 11:07:38 AM CDT   Updated On: Mar 13 2013 04:17:19 PM CDT

Michael Sparks is sentenced to 20 years behind bars for the May 2011 murder of his estranged wife, Judith Johnson.


A Pocatello man who killed his wife will serve a fixed, 20-year sentence behind bars, Judge Stephen Dunn ruled Tuesday.

Michael Lane Sparks, 53, had been charged with and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, but the charge was reduced to second-degree murder due to “aggravating circumstances.”

Sparks' first mental evaluation was done in 2006, where records show substance abuse issues and a brain injury which causes him to lack self-control.

Dunn ruled the killing was not a premeditated act. When Sparks went to visit his wife, Judith Johnson, and her boyfriend, Sparks struck and killed her with a baseball bat and a rifle in May 2011.

Bannock County Prosecutor Steve Herzog said Sparks killed Johnson in front of his two children, aged 10 and 15 at the time.

"The case is concluded,” said Dunn. “To save the family from a trauma, from a difficult trial experience. … I don't want to subject the children to that."

Sparks will be 73 when he is up for parole.

The state of Idaho recognizes a life sentence as 30 years.