An Idaho man convicted of stalking and extorting a Cache Valley resident was sentenced to prison on Tuesday.
Travis Scott Murray, 40, of Malad City, Idaho, was sentenced to two consecutive terms of zero to five years in the Utah State Prison for two third-degree felonies: sexual extortion and stalking.
Travis Murray pleaded guilty to the charges on July 14. Twice he failed to appear for sentencing, and warrants were issued for his arrest.
Defense attorney Joseph Saxton said Travis Murray had missed sentencing in effort to find a permanent residence and employment. According to Saxton, the presentence report recommended prison partially because Travis lacked a fixed address.
“He was understandably a little bit nervous,” Saxton said.
Saxton told the court Travis Murray was responsible and cooperative with law enforcement and asked the court to sentence Travis to probation.
“He is trying,” Saxton told the court.
Cache County prosecutor Dane Murray argued Travis was not taking responsibility for the incident and “preyed on a victim with mental and physical vulnerabilities.”
“He blames the victim,” Dane Murray said, stating Travis had told law enforcement the victim wanted the harshest punishment possible as a form of “retaliation.”
Dane Murray told the court the victim has “substantial fear” of Travis and wanted him to be sent to prison.
Travis Murray emotionally addressed the court, stating he was actively involved in treatment and had been stifled finding employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though he had been unsuccessful with one stint of probation in the past, Travis told the court he had been on another term of probation for six years without incident. Travis told the court he wanted to handle things in “a positive manner.”
“I don’t feel I’m a threat,” Travis told the court. “I don’t want to harm anyone.”
Judge Patrick Corum said while Travis’s avoidance of sentencing and minor criminal history weren’t “overly concerning,” the evidence alone prompted a prison sentence.
“It takes an awful lot to overcome the (sentencing) matrix,” Corum said, explaining the case was one of the most emotionally and psychologically violent cases he’d seen in some time. “The facts of the case warrant a prison sentence.”
Travis again emphasized to the court his desire for probation and, after being sentenced, asked Corum to repeat the ruling.
“I don’t believe I’m mentally prepared for that kind of resolution,” Travis said.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed with the 1st District Court, Travis surreptitiously took photos of a 26-year-old Cache Valley resident performing oral sex. Law enforcement wrote Travis threatened to release the photos if the victim didn’t perform sexually on video chat. The alleged victim provided 417 screenshots to deputies of harassing behavior.
Charges were filed on March 26; Travis was arrested and booked into the Cache County Jail nearly two weeks later.