Chris Taylor would have given the teens the money, had they asked.
Had they not lured him to 89th and Ida under the ruse of ordering Pizza Hut.
Had they not shoved him into a vacant apartment.
Had one of them not viciously stabbed him twice in the back, then left him for dead.
Fact was, prosecutors say, the teens already had taken the $50 from Taylor.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said the stabbing was a mere afterthought - a cruel, coldblooded fate for “this wonderful human being that was Christopher Taylor.”
For that, Bryton Gibbs, 17, will essentially spend the rest of his life in prison.
Saying the teen killed Taylor for “sport,” Douglas County District Judge Mark Ashford sentenced Gibbs to 100 years in prison.
The sentence - Gibbs must serve half, meaning he won't be eligible for release until he's 66 - produced a gasp from a few spectators, weeping from Gibbs' mother and solemn relief from Taylor's parents.
Dan Taylor said the teens had no idea who they took from him when they decided on Sept. 10, 2010, to lure a Pizza Hut deliveryman to a vacant apartment so they could rob him.
Christopher Taylor, 33, was a college graduate. A computer whiz who had patents on two software programs. A pacificist who became a pizza deliveryman instead of taking jobs working computers for any defense contractor or any company that might have a hand in harming people.
A man who made less than $1,000 a month but donated $50 each month to the homeless.
A man who was as gentle as he was slight, standing 5-foot-2 and barely clearing 105 pounds.
A man adored by his family and friends, especially his parents, Taylor of Bellevue and Celeste LaBorde of Salt Lake City.
“When my son died, the biggest part of living for me died with him,” Taylor wrote in a letter to the judge. “I will never be the same person I was.”
Ashford lamented the loss in a far-ranging speech before imposing the sentence. The judge called on Pizza Hut and other delivery companies to come up with more ways to identify warning signs and protect their workers. In this case, the teens called Pizza Hut to make sure the driver had change for $100 a sign that something was up, Ashford said.
He praised Taylor as “an amazing young man.
“He was a well-educated, big-hearted fellow,” Ashford said. “He was a gift to this community. He really dedicated his life to oppose violence of all kinds.”
And he decried the kind of violence that Gibbs and the teens resorted to. One teen is awaiting trial for setting up Taylor; the other two are cooperating with prosecutors.
“This is a case that is especially appalling,” Ashford said. “We have a group of young people who decide to set up a young man to be robbed.
“The killing was almost as though it was a form of excitement or sport. There's no reason to have harmed Mr. Taylor. The violence is absolutely, obviously, totally unjustified.”
Gibbs' attorney, Assistant Douglas County Public Defender Scott Sladek, said his client, 16 at the time of the killing, can't explain why he did what he did. Gibbs' mother, Erin Gibbs, and father, James Tolston, sat in the front row behind their son.
“Bryton has said repeatedly that if anything could be done to go back and change what happened, he would,” Sladek said. “I think Bryton is still in shock as to what took place in this. His mother is the same way. His father is the same way.”
The sentence seemed to reinforce that shock. Gibbs looked like he had seen a ghost. He sighed hard as he shuffled to the courtroom doors, and tried to keep his composure amid a throng of TV cameras in the hallway. As he turned a corner to be led away for the rest of his life, his mien changed. His eyes dropped. His lips pierced. He squeezed hard to fight off tears.
Back in the courtroom, his mother wept: “I don't want to go out there.”
Taylor told the judge he has a hard time figuring out how he's going to venture through life without his son.
A devout man, Taylor said he has been endlessly arguing with God about why his son had to be taken.
It occurred to him Thursday.
“I think he was sacrificed to take Bryton Gibbs out of circulation,” Taylor said softly.
He said he bears no ill will towards Gibbs' family and keeps them in his prayers.
“It'd be nice if we could all sit down with Jesus one day and figure out why this happened,” Taylor said.
“We're going to feel this constantly. Christmas came; my son wasn't there. Thanksgiving came; he wasn't there. He'll never be there.”
At that, a reporter asked: How will you remember him?
“As often as I can.”