A 28-year-old Richland man said Tuesday that even though he has no memory of his actions 21/2 years ago, it upsets him that he led police on a high-speed chase and tried to hit three patrol cars.
Elvis Camillo R. Lopez was sentenced in Benton County Superior Court to 11 years in prison for five crimes.
"I don't know how to say this but I don't know what I went through that day. I don't remember it," Lopez told the judge. "I'm very distraught of what happened that day still because I don't understand, I don't know what happened. I wish I could change it but I can't, so I just have to look at what I can deal with."
Judge Bruce Spanner said the lengthy sentence is warranted because Lopez put law enforcement officers and the community in danger on April 13, 2010. However, the judge noted that Lopez only is looking at nine years in prison because the case took so long to resolve.
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Sentencing was delayed several times after his trial in April because of delays by his attorney, Scott Etherton. Last month, Etherton acknowledged having a conflict with Lopez and said he no longer could represent Lopez.
Scott Johnson was appointed by the court to finish the case. On Tuesday, Johnson said Lopez's claims that his speedy trial rights were violated when Etherton was on the case will be taken up with the Washington state Court of Appeals.
Lopez has the right to file an appeal because he was convicted by a jury.
In April 2010, Lopez shoved his live-in girlfriend to the ground in their Richland home and took her 2005 Nissan Altima without her permission.
Richland police tried to stop him but stopped chasing him when speeds reached 50 mph in a 25-mph school zone. Officers were concerned for children who had been released from Jason Lee Elementary and the school buses in the area, said court documents.
Lopez was spotted in Benton City by Benton County sheriff's deputies. He again ignored attempts to stop him and almost hit a deputy's car head-on before swerving at the last second and hitting the driver's side, documents stated.
Authorities surrounded Lopez and that's when he reportedly rammed his car into the patrol car in front of him, then the one behind him. He was ordered out of the car and, after threatening to kill himself with a knife if officers didn't back off, was shocked with a Taser and arrested.
His blood-alcohol level at the time was above Washington's legal limit of 0.08 percent, court documents said.
The final pursuit involved 10 law enforcement vehicles with officers from Richland, West Richland, Benton County and the Washington State Patrol.
Lopez was convicted of second- and third-degree assault, second-degree taking a vehicle without permission, first-degree robbery and two counts of attempting to elude police.
The jury also returned special verdicts that he was armed with a deadly weapon -- the car -- when he assaulted Deputy Patrick Tomren and for endangering the lives of others during the chase.
The charge for taking a vehicle without permission was dismissed at Deputy Prosecutor Megan Whitmire's request because the crime merged with the robbery charge.
Lopez's sentence includes a two-year mandatory term for the deadly weapon.
Lopez on Tuesday brought up his attempted suicide in jail just days after his arrest.
"I don't feel like I've been given the right treatment that I was supposed to because officers had given me razors," he said, noting that he was "out of it" after his arrest.
According to Herald reports at the time, Lopez asked for a razor to shave shortly after a court appearance. He then broke the razor, used a blade to cut his wrists and walked out of his cell and up to a corrections officer to ask for help, Lt. Rob Guerrero then said.
Lopez was treated at a hospital and returned to jail.
Spanner, in sentencing Lopez, said he has a "distinct recollection" of a patrol car video that was played at trial and showed Lopez driving 100 mph from Benton City to Richland. If it weren't for "good police work" clearing the roadway, lots of people could have been injured that day, he said.
"Obviously something set you off that day that led to extreme danger for many, many citizens in the community," Spanner said.
Lopez was ordered to have no contact with his former girlfriend for the rest of his life.
Johnson asked the judge to set an appeal bond so Lopez could be out of custody and under his father's watch during the appeal. Lopez has mental health issues, but he's not someone "I'd lose sleep over if he's out," Johnson said.
Whitmire argued that Lopez can't control himself and said if Spanner were to consider an appeal bond, he should set it at $1 million.
Spanner said there are "many unknowns" with Lopez and lots of reasons for him not to return to court with a pending 11-year sentence. He set the appeal bond at $200,000, the same amount as Lopez's bail.
Johnson told the Herald that his client will not be posting bond.