A Carson City man pleaded guilty Tuesday to shooting at a deputy last January on College Parkway.
On the day jury selection was set to begin in his attempted murder trial, Raul Perez-Sandoval, 22, pleaded guilty to felony discharging a firearm in a populated area for the purpose of promoting a criminal gang.
Assistant District Attorney Gerald Gardner said Perez-Sandoval faces two to 15 years in prison with a consecutive gang enhancement of one to 15 years.
"If he was convicted of the attempted murder charge he could have been maxed out at three to 40 years," Gardner said. "The issue with that is we had to prove a specific intent to kill. We felt that, given the evidence, this plea was a good balance with what we were likely to prove and any risks that go along with trying to prove an attempted murder case."
Carson City Sheriff's Deputy Gary Underhill was working speed enforcement on College Parkway on Jan. 20, 2008, when Perez fired one shot from a passing vehicle at Underhill's patrol car. The bullet missed, and Underhill chased the vehicle into the Comstock Mobile Home Park.
Police arrested Gustavo Mejia, 22, and Christian Quirarte, 21, but two others in the vehicle fled. In the coming days, Perez-Sandoval was identified as the shooter and Abel Rivera, 34, is believed to have been another passenger in the vehicle at the time of the shooting. Both were arrested.
Perez-Sandoval is the only person charged in the shooting.
Underhill said Tuesday he is happy with the plea deal.
"I couldn't be happier with the work that Gerald and (District Attorney) Neil Rombardo did on this," he said. "They kept me informed throughout and discussed the plea with me.
"The plea that he got isn't much less than the time he would have gotten if we'd gone to trial. (Perez) had absolutely no regard for my life or anybody else's. If he's so willing to shoot at a police officer in a marked patrol car, how dangerous is he to a guy that doesn't pose a threat to him? This is a guy that needs to go away. He has no business being on the outside."
Perez-Sandoval also has an immigration hold against him and will be deported back to Mexico once he serves his sentence, said Gardner.
Sentencing is set for March 9.
- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.
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