A Grand Junction man who killed his wife on Christmas Eve 2019 has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Aaron Carpenter, who told police he shot his wife, Brianna Carpenter, in the stomach on the morning of Dec. 24, was originally charged with first-degree murder and first-degree assault, Chief Deputy District Attorney Melinda Shishim said. He pleaded to the lesser second-degree charge with a sentence enhancer — crime of violence.

Shishim said Carpenter will be sentenced on May 25 and faces between 24 and 40 years in prison. She said they chose to offer the plea deal after consulting with the victim’s family.

“This is an extremely strong case,” Carpenter said. “The offer was extended based on the wishes of the victim’s family.”

According to the original arrest affidavit, Carpenter said he had an argument with his wife the morning of the murder. He called 911 dispatch around 7:20 a.m. and reportedly told the call-taker he had just shot his wife.

Aaron Carpenter, trained in CPR and gunshot wound care through the Army, said in an interview later with police that he did not do anything for his wife of four years as she lay on the floor because “he was too tired and it was too early in the morning,” the affidavit said.

In that interview, less than an hour after the initial 911 call, Carpenter waived his Miranda rights and described in detail the fight that precipitated the shooting.

He told police Brianna kept a handgun in her purse and during the fight she grabbed the handgun and told him “if he was going to (shoot or kill) her, just do it” and handed him the gun with the barrel pointed toward her.

He said he pulled back the slide to assure there was a live round in the chamber, flipped the safety to fire and shot her one time in the stomach.