Killer hears sentence of 45 years, curses judge

Joseph Conn

A convicted killer learned Thursday that he’ll spend 45 years in prison for the brutal killing of a Montrose man in Grand Junction, in addition to serving a life term in California.

Then, he gave a Mesa County judge a four-letter profane suggestion.

“F*** you,” 26-year-old Joseph Conn told Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison at the end of a sentencing hearing.

The judge looked at Conn but didn’t otherwise react to the statement. The judge walked away from the bench.

Robison had earlier said she was allowed under a plea agreement to order a 45-year prison sentence to run consecutively, or on top of, Conn’s existing life-without-parole prison sentence he’s serving in California.

Public defender Thea Reiff said she’d file a motion to withdraw from the plea agreement Thursday, disagreeing with the judge’s reading of the law.

Conn was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the slaying of 36-year-old Willard “Mike” Bobbitt, who was sleeping under the Fifth Street bridge before being repeatedly stabbed and bludgeoned. Bobbitt’s body was found floating in the Colorado River on Aug. 11, 2010.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Conn told his brother he killed Bobbitt. The men were strangers to one another, but Conn said he did it “because he thought he could get away with it.”

The affidavit said Conn told his brother he’d stabbed Bobbitt multiple times in the chest and neck, adding he got blood all over himself and experienced an “adrenaline rush” during the stabbing, before walking away.

He returned an hour later, saw the victim was still moving, and smashed a rock on Bobbitt’s head.

The Mesa County Coroner’s Office concluded Bobbitt was likely dead before being hit with the rock.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Trish Mahre said the killing was among the more brutal she’s prosecuted.

“This was a cold-blooded, thrill kill murder,” she said. “Purely done for the sake of feeling what it’s like to kill someone.”

Conn is already serving a life prison sentence for his conviction in the beating death of a man in Sacramento, California, which happened four months after Bobbitt’s killing.

Grand Junction police learned from a tipster that Conn was a suspect, but by that time, Conn had already fled to California with his then girlfriend.


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