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Applegate man sentenced to 121 years for attempted cop murder

Motion for new trial denied Wednesday
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A man convicted of multiple counts of attempted murder of a peace officer was sentenced Wednesday to more than 121 years in state prison. Close to 25 Placer County Sheriff’s deputies filed into a Roseville courtroom Wednesday to hear the results of the sentencing. David Allan Virgo, 46, of Applegate, was arrested in 2006 after a shootout with Placer County Sheriff’s deputies in Newcastle. At the time, Virgo was wanted on felony assault charges and was considered armed and dangerous. According to the Sheriff’s Office, when the Special Enforcement Team acted on a tip and surrounded a home on Happy Hollow Lane in Newcastle, Virgo opened fire on deputies. On Sept. 1 a jury found Virgo guilty of 22 felony charges including 10 counts of attempted murder of a peace office, 10 counts of assault of a peace officer with a deadly weapon and two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon. Judge Colleen Nichols sentenced Virgo Wednesday to an initial term of 46 years and eight months in prison. After completing this term, Virgo must serve five 15-years-to-life sentences for a total of 121 years and eight months in prison. Nichols stayed an additional 90 years for the assault charges, because they are lesser-included offenses of the attempted murder charges, according to Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Wilson. Virgo must also pay $4,400 in state restitution fines and $840 in court security and criminal assessment fees. Before the sentencing Virgo’s attorney, Mary Beth Acton, filed a motion for a new trial. Her reasons included the erroneous admission of prejudicial evidence, insufficient evidence, jury misconduct and more. In the document for the motion filed on Nov. 15, Acton said the District Attorney’s Office also committed prosecutor misconduct. “During the trial the prosecution specifically sought to elicit testimony from witness Jolene Truschke that (Virgo) was ‘a suspect’ in a shooting and/or killing in Penryn,” the document states. “Defense counsel vehemently objected. The prosecution knew at the time he sought the information from the witness that the defendant was not a suspect in a shooting/killing in Penryn and later disclosed such to the court. The judge, upon review, struck the witness’ answer, but failed to immediately admonish the jury.” Nichols denied the motion for a new trial Wednesday. Acton immediately filed an appeal to the sentencing. During the sentencing Virgo appeared to be very calm, leaning over a couple times to speak to Acton. He looked straight ahead and did not make a statement. Wilson said the District Attorney’s Office felt the sentencing should be 230 years to life, because of the many deputies whose lives were put in danger during the shootout. Wilson said he hoped the case would send a message to those who might shoot at law enforcement officers in the future. “If you are going to take a shot at a cop, you are going to pay for every cop you shoot at,” Wilson said. “I want them to know: don’t shoot at our officers. You may disagree with them … but do not fire a gun on them.” Acton said she doesn’t see the sentencing as a deterrent, because it’s possible for someone who commits murder to get a lesser sentence than Virgo did. “In a homicide you get 25 (years) to life,” Acton said outside the courtroom. “In a second-degree murder you get 15 (years) to life. Do you think that’s a deterrent – getting a life sentence of 100 years to life (without killing someone)? You can look at the (overcrowded) prisons and tell me how much of a deterrent we actually see.” Acton also said she doesn’t think the prosecution presented enough evidence that Virgo was the one in the home who shot the gun, that he knew who deputies were or that he ever intended to kill anyone. Deputy Ben Glau discussed the scene of the shooting outside the courtroom Wednesday. “The scene was chaotic, dark and rapidly evolving,” Glau said. “The role of the Special Enforcement Team is to bring incidents to a safe resolution. It’s both frustrating and challenging to accomplish that task.” Glau said he thought the sentence was fair and just. Capt. Jeff Ausnow, who was also at the scene of the shooting in 2006, said he was pleased by the sentence. “I think the actions of David Virgo were certainly recognized today, and the sentence is appropriate,” Ausnow said. “The court got it right by sending the message that shooting at police officers, and trying to kill them, is wrong.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com