Murderer sentenced to at least 40 years
June 7, 2007
RENO (AP) – A Reno man who confessed to killing a former partner in a failed check-cashing scam and dumping his body in a trash bin in 2002 was sentenced Thursday to at least 40 years in prison.
Matthew Tjeltveit, 26, became the first person in Washoe County to be convicted of first-degree murder even though the victim’s body was never found when a jury found him guilty in March.
Tjeltveit testified during the trial that he had been on a methamphetamine binge when he shot James Weishahn, 18, in the face because he supposedly threatened to kill Tjeltveit’s toddler.
Washoe County District Judge Steven Elliott sentenced him on Thursday to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 40 years.
Weishahn had been presumed missing until November 2005 when a woman came forward and told Washoe County deputies that Tjeltveits friends told her he had confessed to them he killed Weishahn and threw his body in a trash bin in northwest Reno.
Tjeltveit said during his testimony that Weishahn threatened to cut up his young son in small pieces and send them to him, because he refused to help him raise thousands of dollars after a check-cashing scam they were running collapsed.
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Without remorse, he told jurors he “snapped,” pulled out a pistol and shot Weishahn in the head.