Two from Washington state get 8-22 years in Nevada shooting

Ely, Nevada (AP) July 2011

A Nevada judge has sentenced two brothers from Washington state to at least eight years in prison for shooting at a sheriff’s sergeant while trying to avoid arrest in rural White Pine County.

Jesse Robert Spitzer, 19, of Sultan, Wash., and James Robert Spitzer, 24, of Everett, Wash., were sentenced to up to 22 years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to reduced felony charges of attempted murder with a deadly weapon and burglary.

Both men apologized at the July 11 sentencing before 7th Judicial District Judge Steve Dobrescu, the Ely Times reported, and James Spitzer described the location where .357-caliber, .45-caliber and 9mm handguns had been discarded.

Their lawyers and their mother, Tammy Spitzer, of Sultan, Wash., blamed their actions on addiction to narcotics, and their lawyers submitted letters from friends and relatives seeking leniency.

“It’s not them at all. It’s the drugs,” Tammy Spitzer said.

White Pine County District Attorney Kelly Brown told the judge the Sept. 9 shooting came after the Spitzer brothers fled Washington with a stolen gun in a stolen vehicle to avoid criminal warrants stemming from cases including burglaries in that state.

“They decided they weren’t going to go down easy,” the prosecutor said. “They were going to fight. They were going to murder a peace officer.”

Brown told The Associated Press on Monday that he believed the brothers may have committed other crimes in California and Nevada. Brown said he didn’t have specifics and he didn’t know if other jurisdictions would seek to prosecute them.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Fincher escaped injury when shots were fired at his patrol car during a traffic stop on a remote county road just off U.S. 6 near Murray Summit.

Fincher, a nine-year White Pine County sheriff’s department veteran, told the judge the shooting would probably haunt him for the rest of his life.

He said he was responding to a report of a burglary in progress at a home in rural Preston when he stopped a red Ford extended cab pickup with California license plates that matched a description from a vehicle that was involved. He said the pickup had been reported stolen Sept. 4.

Fincher said Jesse Spitzer restarted the vehicle and began to drive away just before a bullet struck the windshield of his marked patrol vehicle. More shots missed the vehicle as the Spitzers drove onto a mine property near Ruth, abandoned the pickup and ran away.

Mine employees helped rescue the Spitzers from a mine pit ledge while sheriff’s deputies, Nevada Highway Patrol troopers, Eastern Nevada Narcotics Task Force members and Ely Shoshone tribal police took the two men into custody.

Both have been held since September at Ely State Prison on $1 million bail.

Jesse Spitzer pleaded guilty April 25 and James Spitzer pleaded May 11 to attempted murder and burglary.

The plea deals avoided trial and the possibility of additional prison time on multiple other felony charges, including aiding and abetting in attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon and theft.