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Man who shot deputy gets up to life in prison

Judge says he is capable of extreme

SHARE Man who shot deputy gets up to life in prison

A man who terrorized his wife and then shot a police officer was sent to prison for up to life after a judge deemed him "capable of extreme violence."

James Isreal Torres, 30, was sentenced to five years to life for aggravated attempted homicide, a first-degree felony. He also was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison on one count each of burglary and theft by receiving stolen property, both of which are second-degree felonies.

Third District Judge Sheila McCleve ordered the sentences to run consecutively.

"I don't know if you're remorseful," McCleve said, despite Torres' statement to the court that he was sorry for what happened.

The judge said she thought Torres was "salvageable" but said it would take hard work to change his behavior.

As part of a plea bargain, Torres admitted he went to his wife's home Jan. 19, which violated a protective order against him, and confronted her. Torres drove away, was stopped by police and fired a shotgun at Salt Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Brett Miller, hitting Miller in the face and hand, according to statements made in court Monday.

Court documents also state Torres then rammed his van into Miller's sheriff's vehicle, causing about $5,000 in damage. The van contained four stolen weapons, including two shotguns, a rifle and a knife, according to statements made in court.

Miller told the judge this life-changing event has affected many people and was especially hard on his pregnant wife, who was awakened at 4:30 a.m. with the news that Miller had been shot.

Miller also expressed doubts about the sincerity of Torres' apology in court and in a letter Miller received. "I believe his actions were deliberate and he regrets that he failed," Miller said. "I believe he's a danger to the public."

Later, outside the courtroom, Miller again expressed skepticism about Torres' remorse, especially since Torres had the word "Satan" handwritten on the back of his jail jumpsuit.

Kim Nielson, Torres' wife and mother of their two children, ages 3 and 5, said she is still deeply afraid, especially after Torres sent her a Valentine's Day letter saying he would "orphan his children" and get his friends on the outside to murder her.

McCleve, who pioneered a domestic violence court in the 3rd District, urged Nielson to get help from the victims advocates in the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office. Victims of such crimes can get free counseling.

"It's important to make a plan for your safety and your children's safety," the judge told Nielson. "Do whatever you have to and do not blame yourself."

Steven Shapiro, Torres' attorney, agreed the crimes were terrible but said Torres was coming down from a three-day binge on methamphetamine and may have been suffering from a drug-induced paranoia that made him act out of character.

McCleve, however, said the red flags for her in the case were the two previous convictions for protective order violations.

"She's lucky to be alive," McCleve said, indicated Torres' wife. "The deputy's lucky to be alive."

E-mail: lindat@desnews.com