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Prosecutors seeking death penalty against man charged with first-degree murder

Crime Watch

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RIGBY — Jefferson County prosecutors say they are seeking the death penalty against a suspect accused of fatally shooting a man.

Jesse Gentle, 22, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder for allegedly shooting and killing 72-year-old Merle Jay Sorensen at a Jefferson County home. In their May notice of intent to seek the death penalty Jefferson County Deputy Prosecutor Matthew Dyal says the death penalty is warranted because Gentle allegedly “exhibited utter disregard for human life.”

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Investigators say while at a relative’s house on Nov. 17, 2020, Gentle shot Sorensen twice with a .22 caliber handgun. After Sorensen was shot, Gentle is alleged to have moved the body and tried to use bleach to clean the crime scene, according to charging documents obtained by

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A two-week jury trial for Gentle is scheduled to begin on Sept. 20. A status conference in the case is set for July 6.

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