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Sun, Sept. 22

Man who buried victim in backyard gets 16 years

Richard Polaski

Richard Polaski

KINGMAN – Richard Polaski will spend the next 16 years in prison for the murder of a Kingman man.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen sentenced the 63-year-old Monday for the murder of John Holland, 65, of Kingman. Polaski confessed July 16 to authorities that he stabbed Holland to death and buried the body in his backyard. He was arrested, charged and found guilty of second-degree murder.

Authorities dug up Holland’s body, which was buried under concrete, Aug. 29 in the backyard of a house on Lass Avenue. Polaski told investigators that he got into an argument with Holland before he killed him on or about July 27, 2015.

Polaski wouldn’t allude much to the reason for the crime but said depression regarding his wife led to emotional issues. He also claimed self-defense saying Holland threatened to shoot him, so he grabbed a pocket knife and stabbed Holland.

Polaski acted as his own attorney but had Deputy Public Defender Robin Puchek standing in as advisory council. Polaski had considered petitioning for psychiatric evaluation but reneged in order to expedite the sentencing hearing.

Prosecutor James Shoppmann said investigation revealed that Holland was stabbed more than 30 times. The head and torso were wrapped in plastic bags and lye dumped on the body. He pointed out that the body was buried in a hole filled with concrete and another slab poured over that hole.

Shoppmann said there was also duct tape over the victim’s mouth, which Polaski denied.

Shoppmann disagreed with the self-defense claim.

“We believe based on the way and the manner that the victim was killed… the court should take this very seriously,” he said.

Investigators couldn’t find any of Holland’s next of kin, and there were no relatives during the investigation or in the court room to speak on his behalf.

Jantzen compared the conflicting factors in the case.

In one hand, Polaski’s emotional issues, lack of serious criminal record, candidness and willing to move forward with the case gave him air. However, the lack of a jury trial to dispute the self-defense claim, that it was a crime of monetary gain, the victim’s multiple stab wounds and buried body with a delay in reporting the crime weighed him down.

“Some cases are worse than others as a first offense,” Jantzen said. “I find the aggravating and the mitigating factors balance.”

Polaski, with beard and walker, was upbeat during the short hearing and made no apologies for the murder.

In a Sept. 20 court appearance, he said he had gotten into an argument with Holland over money.

With the exception of monetary gain, no other financial factors were mentioned during the hearing.

Polaski could have faced 25 years in jail, but due to a plea agreement that possibility was narrowed to between 10 and 18 years.

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