Witness relates night Anderson shot in Kooskia: Godwin set for arraignment next Monday

Jason Godwin

GRANGEVILLE — Jason Andrew Godwin, Sr., will serve the next decade and a half in prison for the 2014 murder of Kyle A. Anderson.

Godwin, 51, was sentenced Monday, Aug. 1, by District Judge Gregory FitzMaurice to serve a 15-to 25-year sentence with the Idaho Department of Correction: a fixed 15-year incarceration, during which he would not be eligible for parole or sentence reduction for good behavior, followed by an indeterminate 10 years. Godwin was also assessed a $5,000 civil judgment in favor of Anderson’s children, and credited for time he has served since his 2014 arrest.

“This was a planned-out situation. It could easily have been charged as first-degree murder,” Judge FitzMaurice said during his summation of the entirety of the case, which included psychological evaluations in the presentence investigation report, and Godwin’s statement on the case submitted that day.

As part of his sentencing consideration, FitzMaurice considered factors raised during trial concerning Godwin’s low IQ, history of mental illness (feelings of low self-worth, anger issues, anxiety), physical problems, and a “toxic mix” of medications for these issues that could affect his decision-making processes and perception of reality.

“And I’m not so sure you were not a pawn in this action,” he said, manipulated by a sophisticated con man and bully, Ernest Ruiz, who accompanied Godwin the night of the murder and in connection was charged with felony possession of a firearm by a felon. Ruiz is set for an Aug. 29 hearing in this matter.

However, while FitzMaurice said he believed from Godwin’s statement that Godwin and his accomplices could – as the motivation behind the crime — retrieve a reportedly stolen handgun from Anderson for the cash bounty without anyone getting hurt, the lead-up into the incident showed otherwise: preplanning – target practice that day with the murder weapon, and later scoping out of the motor home until Anderson returned – and at that point not taking the chance to back out of the plan, and overall going into this with the intent to use force – plans to physically hit Anderson to subdue him, and going to the scene with weapons.

“Even if you had not initiated this, you brought the whole chain of events into action…. You made the decision to go, to be the main perpetrator,” FitzMaurice said. Godwin entered into a “callous decision” to shoot Anderson at point-blank range, attempted to hide the body and evidence in the crime, “dragging the body like a sack of potatoes and end up dropping it by the side of the trailer,” and the subsequent terrorizing of Anderson’s girlfriend and young son they would be silenced as witnesses to the crime.

“I honestly don’t believe that are without remorse. I think you have a hard time expressing it,” FitzMaurice said, adding though Godwin’s remorse is tinged with regret he got himself into this situation and committed these actions.

Godwin was found guilty at trial in March of second-degree murder for the June 9, 2014, shooting of Anderson, 41, in the neck with a .380 handgun outside Anderson’s motorhome off Toll Road at Kooskia. The prosecution at trial said there was no provocation on the part of Anderson, who was putting a license plate on his motorhome when Godwin drove up, yelled at him and shot him. The defense countered Anderson threatened Godwin with a .22 pistol.

“I didn’t set out to hurt anybody,” Godwin said prior to sentencing, saying he was sorry for what had happened. “I honestly believed my life was in danger, and if I could undo what I did, I would. I did not have any ill will toward Kyle or his family and if I could take his place I would, in a heartbeat. I am very sorry to him, to his friends, to his family and this court.”

At Monday’s sentencing, one of Godwin’s defense attorneys, D. Ray Barker, noted his client’s background of abuse as a child, physical and mental problems and resulting medication for these that affected his perception and ability to process events. Barker this incident was more a manslaughter than murder, “I don’t believe he intended to kill,” and sought a 10-year sentence. Prosecutor Kirk MacGregor stated Godwin has never shown any remorse for his action or sympathy for Anderson’s family, characterized him as “a reactive person suffering from paranoia … a time bomb, “ and he has a history of minimizing his involvement with criminal offenses. For the protection of society, MacGregor sought a life sentence without possibility of parole for Godwin.

Prior to handing down sentence, Judge FitzMaurice said to Godwin, “I feel you can be rehabilitated, and over a period of time” if he would take advantage of the necessary programs while in prison.

MacGregor and deputy prosecutor Adam Green handled the case. Godwin was represented by attorneys Mark Monson and Barker, both of Moscow.

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