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Deportation likely for trooper shooter

8/15/2012

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

District Judge Glenn Braun didn't mince words Tuesday when he sentenced Ruben Herrera Escobedo to consecutive terms in prison for the unprovoked shooting of Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Doug Schulte.

Schulte urged Braun to make the sentences consecutive, detailing the burden the shooting has placed on his life and that of his family.

Braun sentenced Escobedo to 59 months in prison on the main charge of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. He sentenced him to 18 months in prison on the second count, that of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.

"The sentences are to run consecutive," Braun said.

He also ordered a three-year post-release supervision on each charge.

"That's never going to happen," Braun said.

That's because Escobedo, who purchased a Social Security card, likely will be deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

After the hearing, Schulte said he knows Escobedo won't be in the country much longer, but said many times people return again. If he does, it's likely he'll return to prison, the trooper said.

At Tuesday's hearing, Schulte, in full uniform, urged Braun to hand down consecutive sentences.

But, he said, the turn of events Jan. 29, 2011, changed how he and other law enforcement officers approach situations -- including those similar to the routine stop that nearly cost him his life.

"It definitely made me a better officer," he said.

Schulte testified he pulled over Escobedo for failing to stop at a stop sign at Vine and Old U.S. Highway 40.

As Schulte approached the vehicle, Escobedo stepped out of his pickup and shot the trooper in the chest at close range, firing twice more as Schulte fell back from the impact of the gunshot.

Schulte fled to the rear of his patrol cruiser for protection, calling for help and returning fire.

The bullet from Escobedo's .357-caliber revolver hit Schulte in the chest, between his shirt pocket and his badge, nicking his protective vest. The bullet went through his chest, exiting out his back.

A videotape of the scene from the troopers dashboard cam was played during Escobedo's preliminary hearing and was entered into evidence by Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees for the purpose of the sentencing.

Escobedo's court-appointed defense attorney, Paul Oller, sought to convince Braun to hand down concurrent sentences, calling him a "low-functioning simple man who was under the influence of alcohol."

"The court had the opportunity to watch the video and experienced the horror of that night," Braun said in his opening comment on sentencing.

Schulte, Braun told Escobedo through interpreter Erin Hernandez, was making "what appeared to be a fairly routine traffic stop."

"And with absolutely no provocation, you fired at him while he was defenseless."

Braun said he was "shocked" by what he saw on the video, especially the lack of conversation or argument between Escobedo and Schulte that "explains such a violent response by you."

Braun said the violence directed at law enforcement is something people in the Hays area expect to see elsewhere, but not here.

He cited Schulte's comments that law enforcement officers actually were able to see something good out of the tragedy.

"He and the other law enforcement officers now are aware that people like you are crowding our roadways," Braun said.

Escobedo already has been in jail for nearly 18 months, reducing his remaining jail term to slightly less than five years. He's eligible to get 15 percent of his sentence waived for good behavior, so he could be released in slightly more than four years.