Man gets life in prison without parole for slaying of Nellis airman

A 38-year-old man was ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole on Tuesday for his role in the slaying of a Nellis airman gunned down in the garage of his home.

“It was one of the most insidious plots to kill somebody that I’ve come across,” District Judge Douglas Herndon said in handing down the sentence to Corry Hawkins in the killing of 28-year-old Nathan Paet.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Michelle Fleck called Nathan Paet’s wife the “most culpable person in this case,” but said Hawkins was the triggerman.

“If you were to hire someone to kill someone,” the prosecutor said, “Corry Hawkins is exactly the man you would hire.”

Hawkins, a nine-time convicted felon, pleaded guilty to murder and burglary charges last year in order to avoid the death penalty.

He later tried to withdraw his plea, but Herndon denied that request.

Defense attorney Andrea Luem said Tuesday that Hawkins maintains that he was not the shooter, and he was “just merely present” at the time of the killing.

Earlier this year, the same judge also ordered Michelle Paet to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for orchestrating a plot that left her husband dying in his blood-soaked Air Force fatigues

Prosecutors said Paet wanted her husband out of the picture and planned the December 2010 murder over the course of six months along with Michael Rodriguez, a man with whom she worked and had a fleeting sexual relationship.

Nathan Paet was the assistant noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the Strike Aircraft Maintenance Supply section of the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base. He was born in 1982 in Tamuning, Guam, where he and Michelle were high school sweethearts.

He was unaware of his wife’s infidelity and never spoke of any suspicions with his relatives.

Nathan Paet’s brother, Eric Paet, told the judge Tuesday that when family members learned of the killing “our world stood still.”

On the night of Dec. 1, 2010, Rodriguez and Hawkins waited outside the Paets’ far southwest valley home, prosecutors said.

Nathan Paet was shot dead in the garage as he was leaving for work.

While Rodriguez told police that Hawkins was the gunman, a woman who was with Rodriguez later that night said he told her he pulled the trigger.

Michelle Paet and Hawkins face life in prison without the possibility of parole in December, when District Judge Douglas Herndon is slated to impose their sentences. After his conviction by a jury, Rodriguez agreed to a sentence of life in prison without parole.

Jessica Austin, who was dating Hawkins at the time of the slaying, has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, and is awaiting sentencing.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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