An American man will likely die behind bars after being sentenced on Friday for the 2016 murder of a Kamloops-born woman in Colorado.
Ronald Budler, 50, was charged with first-degree murder following the shooting death of 51-year-old Shawna Peltomaa-Belanger, also known as Shawna Naimoli, more than two years ago.
An affidavit in court proceedings described Budler, 49, as being the brother of Peltomaa-Belanger's boyfriend.
Budler pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of second-degree murder and was sentenced in a Greeley, Colo., courtroom on Friday to 35 years in prison.
Weld County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wrenn told KTW Budler’s defence lawyer argued mental-health issues played a key role in his actions and should result in a reduced sentence.
“Although there were some indications of mental-health issues, this was really a murder-suicide that stopped at murder,” Wrenn said.
Police responding to a 911 call on Sept. 21, 2016, found Peltomaa-Belanger shot to death. Budler was arrested a short time later and admitted to pulling the trigger.
Peltomaa-Belanger was shot twice in the face and was found with the murder weapon lying across her chest. Investigators believe Budler was trying to stage the scene to make it appear as though Peltomaa-Belanger had taken her own life.
Budler told police he hoped to shoot other people and himself, but became scared after killing Peltomaa-Belanger.
Budler’s plea agreement stipulated a sentence in the range of 25 to 35 years in prison.
After being given credit for time already spent behind bars, Budler has nearly 24 years left to serve before becoming eligible for parole.
Peltomaa-Belanger was born and raised in Kamloops. She grew up in Brocklehurst, attended NorKam secondary and worked at Kelly O’Bryan’s restaurant. She moved to the United States after marrying an American man in the 1990s, but remained a regular visitor to Kamloops until her death.