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 Robin Chittum 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.
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.