After nearly eight hours of deliberations, a Clark County jury convicted a former Air Force technical sergeant Friday of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his wife.
Jarom Boyes, 46, faced a first-degree murder charge in the April 6, 2013, shooting death of his wife, 24-year-old Melissa Boyes, who was an Air Force staff sergeant.
North Las Vegas police initially investigated the death as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“It’s disgusting,” defense attorney Gabriel Grasso said after the verdict. “They gave the state a consolation prize.”
The maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is four years, and Boyes already has served nearly five years at the Clark County Detention Center while awaiting trial.
Boyes is expected to be released soon and will appear before District Judge Jennifer Togliatti on Tuesday morning.
“We’re happy to say the jury found Jarom Boyes responsible in some way for Melissa’s death,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Binu Palal said.
But, he said, a crucial piece of evidence in the case might have been what prevented jurors from giving Boyes a more serious conviction. It was the audio recording on Boyes’ cellphone, one that played for the jury what happened between the couple that night, down to the fatal gunshot.
The recording chronicled for jurors what happened after Jarom and Melissa Boyes returned home that night from a confrontation at a Charlie’s Las Vegas bar.
“Let me out,” Melissa Boyes said, pleading three times and telling her husband, “I’m done with your abuse.”
Grasso argued the recording was proof of the couple’s sexual relationship, which included bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism.
He said that in the recording, Jarom Boyes fluctuates between “BDSM Jarom” and “husband Jarom,” which is why some of the content is vulgar. Melissa Boyes also uses a different voice, Grasso said, when she asks her husband, “Does it hurt, daddy?”
Prosecutor Jake Villani said what happened to Melissa Boyes wasn’t consensual.
“We know that she’s never been suicidal, she’s tried to leave the situation and won’t be allowed to, we know that she retreats to the bedroom, we know she calls for help.”
In the audio, Melissa Boyes addressed her husband: “You hurt me so much, Jarom.”
He responded, “Put the gun down.”
At that moment, it goes off.
There is no sound of struggle with the firearm.
“The one piece of evidence that goes his way is the one piece in his control,” Villani said during the trial. “He got lucky, folks. The fact that this tape exists is circumstantial evidence.”
Prosecutors argued that Jarom Boyes changed the story multiple times and that Melissa Boyes, who had training and experience with firearms and grabbed a gun to protect herself, didn’t shoot herself, whether accidentally or on purpose.
In 2015, the Air Force found Jarom Boyes not guilty after an administrative hearing and discharged him.
After the verdict Friday, defense attorney Brent Bryson said Jarom Boyes was in shock and disbelief. “This guy waited a long time for trial,” Bryson said.
“In a practical sense, it’s a defense victory,” Grasso said of the lesser conviction. “But any conviction when you are innocent is a tragedy.”
Contact Briana Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.