Craig Leroy Fief, 49, of Craig, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday for the stabbing death of Shane Arredondo.
“I killed Shane. I attacked (my wife). It is my fault. I know I’m going to go prison for a long, long time, and there’s not a day goes by I don’t think about Shane," Fief said in the sentencing hearing Tuesday as tears coursed down his face, and his voice cracked while he spoke. "I’d trade places with him right now if I could."
“Sorry, Shane,” he said, reissuing an apology to his family, his sons, the community of Craig and Arredondo’s family.
Judge Michael O’Hara was somber when he handed down the 30-year sentence for second-degree murder and menacing. Fief originally was charged with first-degree murder, but a jury found him guilty of the lesser charge.
“Mr. Fief, I believe you are sorry. I’m sorry, too. I’m sorry this happened,” O’Hara said. “I get no joy from this.”
But O’Hara said he couldn’t be lenient with Fief. The mandatory sentence for second-degree murder must fall between 16 and 48 years. Sixteen years would have been a fitting sentence for someone who acted rashly in a moment and immediately regretted their mistake, O’Hara said, but this case was different.
“I, frankly, am shocked that there are some in the community who believe — who expressed to us — that they could understand how and why this happened, and they would do the same,” O’Hara said. “That is extremely dangerous thinking.”
O'Hara said part of his obligation to the community was to challenge that dangerous thinking by holding people like Fief accountable for murder.
“I can’t say this is the least culpable second-degree murder that could have occurred,” O’Hara said.
O’Hara didn’t issue the maximum sentence, though. This was Fief’s first criminal offense, and up until his arrest, he had been respected as a valuable member of the community, O’Hara said.
But Fief always had been emotional, according to court documents and testimony.
Testimony from the trial showed Fief’s jealousy and anger had been growing for some time.
When he started suspecting his wife of having an affair, he hacked into her Facebook page to read her private messages. He tracked her cellphone usage, text messages and voicemail.
Fief had confronted his wife about an affectionate message she received from Arredondo and demanded that she change her cell number. She did, but Fief remained suspicious.
On Dec. 8, 2012, Fief tried to contact his wife several times while he was at working a late shift at Trapper Mine. When she didn’t respond, he told his co-workers that he needed to go home because his son was sick. Instead, Fief went back to his apartment, grabbed a butcher knife and drove to Mathers’ Bar to find his wife.
He was in his car at Mathers’ parking lot, waiting, when he saw his wife come out of the Elk Head Apartments with Arredondo.
Fief walked across the parking lot and plunged the butcher knife upward into Arredondo’s stomach, according to court testimony. Fief stabbed Arredondo three to four more times and then Fief threatened his wife with the blade. But he broke the knife in Arredondo’s body when he saw his wife comforting the dying man.
“As (Arredondo) was laying, virtually dead, you stabbed him again — so violently that you broke the knife, and then you kicked him in the head,” O’Hara said.
That extended rage, O’Hara said, made it impossible for the judge to give Fief just 16 years.
“Although no sentence can fully alleviate the suffering that Mr. Fief’s violent acts caused for Mr. Arredondo and his family, 30 years in prison offers some measure of justice for them,” District Attorney Brett Barkey said in a statement.
“I hope, one day, something good will come of this,” O’Hara said.
“It will,” Fief said.
Fief will be eligible for parole in roughly 22 years.
Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.