In March of this year a jury trial found Jessica Colpitts guilty of first-degree murder in the May 22, 2017 shooting death of 23 year-old Samantha S. Fignani. The sentencing for Colpitts, 33, was held Sept. 10 at Clearwater County Courthouse, with Judge Gregory FitzMaurice presiding.
Colpitts entered the court in a smart grey suit, represented by Attorneys Mark Monson and William Fitzgerald. Monson asked for the court to hear the testimony of Joann McPheeters.
Joann McPheeters, a friend of Colpitts for 21 years, and presently a case manager for the Idaho Department of Corrections testified that in all the time she has known her, Jessica had never acted out or been violent. “When Jessica moved to Lewiston to live with her father we lost contact for a bit.”
McPheeters said she had spent almost every day with Jessica during the summer of 2017, and even the evening Samantha was murdered there was nothing unusual about Jessica’s behavior. McPheeters stated that Jessica was an amazing mother, very attentive and kind. She also noted that Jessica had been sober for two years prior to the incident.
Prosecutor Clayne Tyler asked McPheeters if Jessica had shared news of Jessica’s former boyfriend and the father of her child, JoJo Walker calling earlier that day or if they had ever discussed the 410 shotgun JoJo had left at the house, or if Jessica had shared that she had tried to get two other friends to beat up Samantha a couple days prior to her death.
McPheeters said that Jessica hadn’t discussed those things with her, even though they were very close, they each had their own friends. Tyler stated that there were many things that Jessica hadn’t shared with her and there was a whole side to Jessica that she didn’t know.
Orofino Police Department Sergeant Vincent Frazier was also called to the stand to verify the call records showing Samatha Fignani had received calls from JoJo the morning before her death, as well as describe the search of Colpitts’ residence after the shooting. Frazier said he had found a purple tin in Colpitt’s bedroom with residue of cocaine on the bag(s). Monson asked if Colpitts had been charged with the possession of narcotics. Frazier states she was not.
Victim’s impact statements
Samantha’s mother, Mrs. Steiger has counted 839 days since her daughter’s death. “I have anger, but the pain is bigger than anything. I have thought a long time about what to say, and now, am at a loss for words. There is nothing that can bring my baby back.”
Samantha’s brother, Michael Fignani also attempted to make a statement and expressed his grief over the loss of his sister.
A third statement was heard by Dalinda Medford, whose daughter, also named Samantha, was best friends with Samantha Fignani. Medford said Fignani had spent a lot of time with their family while she was young and “I loved her like my own.” Fignani had asked her daughter if she would take her infant daughter (Diamond) to raise, as she was struggling with addiction and wanted her daughter to have a better life than she could offer. Diamond has been with the family since and is dearly loved, but will never know her mother.
With no further matters of mitigation, Monson directed his attention to the pre-sentence investigation report (PSI) for his client. “It’s about as clean a report as I’ve ever seen,” said Monson, noting that she had no history of violence or any other problems, Jessica was a very good student, making a 3.7 g.p.a. in high school. She is employable and intelligent with close family ties. We are asking for a determinate period of 10 years.”
The counsel continued to suggest that the appropriate sentence for his client’s case would be similar to the sentence delivered in Daniel Alldrin’s case, 10 years fixed. Tyler argued that the cases were very different. “We’re asking for a harder sentence.
“There is so much evidence points to the fact that Jessica did kill Fignani. The jury returned in four hours. She has shown no remorse and refuses to take any responsibility,
“For McPheeters to say Colpitts has shown no rage in her past history is completely untrue. We have all heard the recordings between Colpitts and Walker on the phone. The state asks for a life sentence with 23 years fixed.”
Judge FitzMaurice felt that neither sentence was appropriate and expressed that he has gone through the evidence time and again. He did say that Colpitts had a fairly normal upbringing and he could see she was intelligent, but that one of his main priorities was to keep society safe.
Due to the nature of the crime, ten years was not sufficient, nor did he agree with the state’s request for 23. “Not to say that the crime was pre-meditated, but at any point you could have stopped and done something different. When you went to pick up the clothes you wore, when you picked up the gun, when you got to the door and had seen the look of terror on her face, you could have stopped right there, but you didn’t and that’s the dark side of you. You’ve made a fatal mistake.”
FitzMaurice imposed a life sentence with 18 years fixed as well as a civil penalty of $5,000 to be paid to the victim’s mother, Mrs. Stieger. Restitution in the amount of $100 is to be paid to the Idaho State Police for lab costs and the Idaho Victims Compensation Fund Program request restitution of $13,722. Colpitts will receive credit for the time she has served to this point.
Prosecutor Tyler was available for comment later Tuesday afternoon. “I met with the family after sentencing. We were not disappointed. Clearly much has gone into determining the appropriate sentence. We feel there is justice in the sentence, and the outcome helps to bring closure for Samantha’s family.”