YAKIMA - An 18-year-old Outlook man was sentenced to 19 years and three months in prison for shooting at two Yakima County Sheriff's deputies in July of 2009.
Jacob Almaguer entered an Alford plea yesterday in Yakima County Superior Court to charges of first and second degree assault on a deputy and possession of a firearm. He was sentenced that same day.
Two Yakima County Sheriff's deputies were investigating a report of shots fired in Outlook on July 20, 2009 when they came under fire from a gunman hiding nearby. Deputy Flaviano Miranda was hit and wounded and Deputy Chris Stearley suffered minor injuries when he scrambled for cover.
The Sunnyside Police Department took over the investigation with Sunnyside Det. Sgt. John Chumley taking the lead.
"We worked with numerous police agencies and had Jacob Almaguer in custody within 22 hours," Chumley said.
Police believe Almaguer, who was a known gang member with numerous run ins with the law, had fallen out of favor with his gang and set up the ambush on the deputies to bolster his standing within the criminal organization.
Almaguer was initially charged with attempted first degree murder and held on a $2 million bond. More than a year later Almaguer's defense pointed out issues on whether or not police had the right man in custody and his bail was lowered to $50,000 and Almaguer was released from jail on bail.
An Alford plea means Almaguer doesn't admit guilt, but concedes a jury would likely find him guilty in a trial.
But Chumley said there is no doubt Almaguer is the one responsible for the crime.
Chumley said he believes recent happenings led Almaguer to change his mind and enter his plea.
"Some witnesses were on the fence, but they decided to do the right thing," Chumley said. "It's not always the easiest to do the right thing, but it's always the right thing to do."
Chumley said he would have liked to have seen Almaguer convicted of attempted murder and receive a more lengthy prison sentence, but is pleased with the result. To prove attempted murder, Chumley said intent and premeditation would have had to of been proven. With assault, only the act needs to be proven.
"Jacob Almaguer is going to serve 19 years and three months in prison," Chumley said. "I hope it's worth it to him. This community is a much safer place because he is behind bars."