UTAH STATE PRISON — In 1999, Natalie Golub was emotional as she pleaded with a judge to give her husband’s killer life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“You took my baby’s father, and you took my husband, and I’ll never forgive you for that,” she told Russell Eugene Bisner during sentencing.
Last week, as Golub, who has since re-married and is now Natalie Brown, addressed a member of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole during Bisner’s first parole hearing, it was evident that her emotional wounds were still as fresh as they were 20 years ago.
“I am begging you from the bottom of my heart, please don’t let him out,” Brown said in tears, in a recording of the April 9 hearing. “He’s a monster. … He’s a horrible individual.”
On Jan. 6, 1999, Bisner, then 19, and three friends met Darby Golub, 19, in a Smith’s store parking lot, 2039 E. 9400 South, in Sandy, allegedly to settle a drug debt. Bisner and Golub were friends. Golub showed up at the parking lot with a rifle which his family claimed he was going to give to Bisner as collateral for the $350 he owed him.
At some point during the confrontation, Bisner picked up the rifle and fired six rounds at Golub as he was running away and trying to get back into his truck. One round struck Golub in the back of his head, killing him.
Bisner was convicted of murder and aggravated robbery, both first-degree felonies, and sentenced to a combined 11 years to life in prison.
At the time of the shooting, Brown was 17 and just two months earlier had given birth to Golub’s child. At Bisner’s parole hearing, Cameron Golub addressed the board.
“My dad was taken from me when I was 2 months old. Him being 19, he was not given the chance to live. He was not given the chance to make better choices and start his life with his family,” he said. “Just because you had the nerve to pick up a gun that wasn’t even yours and pull the trigger. Not once, not twice, but six times.
“The only way I could see my dad was at a graveyard or in pictures. I never got the chance to know him,” Golub continued. “I never even got to call him dad.”
Golub does not believe Bisner can blame drugs or youth for his actions, and does not believe he should be paroled.
“Hopefully you can sit and think about it just like I do, every single day of my life,” he said.
Likewise, an emotional Brown began her comments when she took her seat behind Bisner by stating, “I don’t even like looking at the back of his head.”
Brown said she raised her children to never use the word “hate” because of the weight it carries.
“I always told them, ‘Don’t say that you hate somebody unless you really actually hate them or hate something.’ And I hate that man. I hate him from the bottom of my heart,” she told parole board member Clark Harms of Bisner.
Inmates are not allowed to look at victims or their families while they are talking. Brown said she wished Bisner could turn around and see her son and how much he looks like his father and that “that face would haunt him for rest of his life.”
When it was his turn to talk, Bisner, now 40, said it was “excruciating” to hear the words of Darby Golub’s family. He said the hardest part was knowing that Cameron — someone he held when he was an infant — had to grow up without a father.
“What on earth was going through your mind?” Harms asked Bisner about his decision to shoot when Golub was already running away.
Bisner, who had taken LSD, marijuana and alcohol that night, said everything happened so fast that he still doesn’t understand why he did it, only that anger and adrenaline took over.
“I can’t say what possessed me to pick up the gun and fire, whether it was anger, frustration, fear. I don’t know what my motivations were. I have a hard time even understanding even now. But I repeatedly fired until the gun was empty,” he said. “There’s never a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t think about all the pain I’ve caused. My choices that night were purely selfish.
“I don’t think in my heart I meant to kill him. It was just a very, very bad situation that went wrong real quick,” he said. “Honestly, I’ve pondered that this whole time. I never have understood why I did it, why I began pulling the trigger.”
Bisner said he was raised in a good home, but starting at age 13 he found himself frequently in juvenile court.
“I don’t know why that I chose to disregard all my family values that my mother instilled. But I think it was pure selfishness and greed,” he said.
Today, Bisner points to his successes while in prison, and told Harms he is a better person because of the lessons he has learned while incarcerated.
“I’m hoping there’s redemption,” he said. “I want to be able to show (my family) that all their love of me isn’t lost. That I can still be a human being and make the right choices in the wrong situations.”
Harms called the decision the board has to make “very weighty.” The full five member board is expected to decide whether to grant parole or schedule another hearing by the end of the month.