Weatherford, Texas— A Texas teen, Jacob “Jake” Ryan Evans, received two 45-year prison sentences Thursday after pleading guilty to two counts of murder in the 2012 shooting deaths of his mother and younger sister.
During a 911 call on Oct. 4, 2012, Evans told a Parker County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher that he repeatedly shot and killed his mother, 48-year-old Jami Evans, a former area schoolteacher, and her daughter, 15-year-old Mallory Evans.
Evans detailed the killing to the dispatcher, and said he had been planning to kill “pretty much anybody” for a while. He described himself as “I’m pretty, I guess, evil.”
Asked by the dispatcher if there was a reason he was so angry with his mother and sister, Evans replied, “I don’t know. I wasn’t — it’s weird — I wasn’t even really angry with them. It just kind of happened. I had been kind of planning on killing for a while now.”
Local deputies found the two dead due in the family’s house and arrested Evans.
“We feel that this is a fair plea bargain under all the circumstances even though our family would support a lesser sentence than 45 years if it was possible to do so in this case,” a letter read Thursday afternoon by Evans’ court-appointed attorney, Mac Smith, and signed by 11 of Evans’ family members, including his father and two sisters, states.
“None of us want Jake and our family to be subjected to a capital murder trial, which we feel would not be in his and our family’s best interests,” family members wrote. “We wish to close this chapter of our lives in order to continue healing as a family.”
Evans, who turns 20 in May, will have to serve at least 22 and a half years, including time already in custody, before he is eligible for parole.
Prosecutors waived the count of capital murder in the indictment.
Evans, a home-school student at the time, was 17 years old when he was arrested.
At the time of the killings, the only punishments allowed under state law for capital murder were death or life imprisonment without parole. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled both of those punishments unconstitutional for 17-year-olds.
“We weren’t sure whether [a later fix by the Texas Legislature] was going to hold up and withstand constitutional scrutiny as we went up the court of appeals,” Assistant District Attorney Robert DuBoise said.
Evans’ mental health has also been an issue.
After Evans was examined by psychologists at the request of his attorneys, 415th District Judge Graham Quisenberry in October found Evans incompetent to stand trial and ordered him treated at a state mental hospital.
The commitment ended April 20 when hospital officials notified court officials that Evans was competent to stand trial.
DuBoise said prosecutors don’t know whether Evans was mentally ill at the time of the killings.
“Certainly his thought processes were not normal thought processes but I don’t know if he’d ever been diagnosed or treated for any of those issues,” DuBoise.
Defense attorneys had previously filed a motion to pursue a defense of insanity.
“The state hospital’s determination that Evans has now regained competency to stand trial would not have prevented the defense from asserting insanity at the time of the offense if we had a trial,” District Attorney Don Schnebly said.
Evans has had visitors all through his two and a half years in custody, according to Smith.
“This is a horrible tragedy,” Smith said. “When that happens it’s just impossible to know how as a family you’re supposed to deal with this and so they have been working hard to deal with all the circumstances.”
The family is ready to and has been trying to go through the healing process since the killing, Smith said.
“They’ve forgiven him to depths that should inspire everyone in this case,” DuBoise said.
Coyne writes for The Weatherford (Texas) Democrat.