SIERRA VISTA — A man convicted of two counts each of attempted murder and aggravated assault for shooting at two Bureau of Land Management rangers was sentenced to serve 16 years in prison by a judge in Cochise County Superior Court on Friday.
The incident took place on June 5, 2010, when the BLM agents began following a vehicle driven by Thibodeaux. While rangers are normally tasked with patrolling recreation areas and enforcing site rules, an increase in illegal immigrant and drug smuggling traffic on public lands has meant they have also started dealing with those issues, BLM Spokeswoman Diane Drobka previous told the Herald/Review.
While following, Thibodeaux stopped his white pickup, exited the truck with a rifle and fired at least two shots at the agents, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office reported.
The rangers returned fire when the pickup turned around and drove past them.
Several area law enforcement agencies responded to the area of Thibodeaux’s home on Happy Camp Canyon near Dos Cabezas but he was not found until later that week outside the post office in Bowie.
During Friday’s sentencing, both rangers were present. Tim Rinehart was there in person while Mark Brunk attended by phone.
When offered the chance to speak, Brunk told the judge that he believed that Thibodeaux’s behavior and mental state would place any law enforcement officer at further risk of harm if he were to ever be released from prison. Rinehart told the judge he thought the prosecutor’s request that Thibodeaux be sentenced to a total of 21 years in prison was appropriate.
Speaking on the defendant’s behalf, also by telephone, was his adult niece, Heather Settle.
Settle asked that the judge consider her uncle’s age and lack of any criminal history when deciding on a sentence.
Judge Wallace Hoggatt, before announcing the sentence, said he had considered both the defendant’s mental health issues and his clean criminal record, but that he also took into account the lasting emotional harm to Brunk.
For the sentencing, Wallace divided the counts depending on which victim they were referencing. The combined sentence for the aggravated assault and attempted murder charges referencing Brunk came to nine years in prison, while the combined sentence for the charges referencing Rinehart came to seven years in prison. The two terms are to be served consecutively.
Thibodeaux, who represented himself during the proceedings, had filed several motions to have the case dismissed, all of which were denied by Hoggatt.