Posted: 10:44 PM MST
Video report, story by Patrick Walker
Preston Strong did not testify during his trial. However, he told his side of the story for the first time in Yuma County Superior Court Friday.
Strong was convicted on all nine counts he faced, including two counts of first-degree murder, in October. He faced 25 years to life in prison on each of the murder counts. Strong did not face the death penalty because his trial was a bench trial, with the judge deciding guilt instead of a jury.
In court, both state prosecutors and defense attorneys argued for the sentence they felt most appropriate. Prosecutors wanted the full natural life sentence, meaning Strong would never get out of prison. Defense attorneys, while still maintaining Strong’s innocence, argued for statutory life terms.
Before Superior Court Judge John Nelson handed down the sentence, Strong spoke to the court for the first time. While spending nearly 30 minutes maintaining his innocence, Strong claimed he was a victim of Yuma police corruption and is currently a victim of a corrupt justice system.
Judge Nelson listened to Strong’s plea before handing down his decision. Nelson sentenced Strong to natural life in prison on both counts of first-degree murder, and several years on the other seven felony counts, which will all be served concurrently.