An El Paso County jury deliberated for less than two hours this week before convicting an ex-Fort Carson soldier in the brutal slaying of a Colorado Springs woman.
Jonathan Paul Nelson, 29, was found guilty of all counts, including first-degree murder, Tuesday in the June 2015 death of Ashley Melnyczok.
After the verdict was announced, 4th Judicial District Judge Marla Prudek imposed the only sentence available under the circumstances: life without parole.
“We’re happy with the verdict, but we have a second trial coming up,” prosecutor Michael Allen said, referring to Nelson’s co-defendant, Joseph Kimsey, who is due to face a jury March 6 on similar charges of first-degree murder.
Melnyczok, a sex worker who advertised online, was targeted for up to $20,000 in cash she kept under her bed.
She was found beaten and stabbed in her Colorado Springs apartment with a plastic bag taped around her head.
A bloody fingerprint on the bag was a match to Nelson, and other items inside the apartment had DNA linked to Kimsey, who had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship with the victim.
At the time of her murder Kimsey was AWOL after already been in trouble while in the Army. Kimsey was “found guilty by his commander of wearing unauthorized military awards, badges or decorations.” before he went AWOL.
Kimsey and Nelson met in the El Paso County jail in the weeks before the murder and initially plotted to steal from Melnyczok as a means of getting money to post bond.
Their plan – which called for killing Melnyczok if she were home at the time of the burglary they planned – continued even after both men were released from custody, authorities say.
Nelson was arrested two days after the killing, following a dramatic car chase in Colorado Springs that began after he returned to the scene of the crime. After the chase, police found a so-called body disposal bag in his car filled with tarp, handcuffs and other items.
Kimsey was later arrested in Canon City driving a car that had belonged to Melnyczok.
Opening statements in the case were Feb. 2.