Donald Heggie, 45, got a suspended term of three years for evading police and resisting arrest by force of violence.
Judge Chris Doehle heard arguments from the attorneys and probation office and decided to allow him a chance at three years of formal probation, which could be revoked with another violation.
“The crime itself was quite serious,” said Doehle, but Heggie’s minor criminal history “leads me to believe he will be successful if the court grants him probation.”
Before accepting a plea deal in June, Heggie was facing charges of attempted murder, receiving stolen property of $400 or less, two counts of resisting a peace officer, evading officers with wanton disregard for safety, battery on a peace officer and assault with a deadly weapon.
Defense attorney Leroy Davies echoed a claim he made previously that the attempted murder charge was filed to save the deputy who fired at Heggie during the car chase from any punishment.
“Regretfully, this whole case is about politics,” said Davies. “The DA covered it up by alleging attempted murder.”
District Attorney Jon Alexander disputed the claim previously, stating his decision not to bring criminal charges against sheriff’s Deputy Richard Griffin was based on the findings of independent investigators.
Alexander is currently on unpaid suspension.
The attempted murder charge was tacked on after the preliminary hearing, in which Griffin testified that Heggie struck him multiple times with the getaway truck as Heggie fled the parking lot of the Seabreeze Apartments, 1045 E. Condor St., where authorities tried to corner him.
Another deputy testified at the preliminary hearing that he was unable to see the shots fired or Griffin being struck by the truck, but estimated that’ while Heggie was maneuvering to escape, his truck was moving at 1-5 mph.
Griffin testified he shot at Heggie’s truck as a result.
Heggie was eventually captured in a wooded area near Whaleview Court off Pebble Beach Drive, where he parked his truck at a driveway and ran.
Davies acknowledged that Heggie was wrong for leading officers on a chase through Crescent City, but said he was not attempting to use his vehicle to strike Griffin.
Griffin was frightened enough that he felt his life was in danger and fired his weapon, acting District Attorney Katherine Micks said.
Probation Officer Lonnie Reyman, who had suggested to the court Heggie should be placed on probation, agreed with Micks, stating that if he were in Griffin’s place at the time he would have been afraid.
“Mr. Heggie’s actions in this case in our eyes were egregious,” said Reyman.
A presentencing report conducted with Heggie by the Del Norte Probation Officer stated Heggie was polite and remorseful.
Heggie also gave his version of the story, stating that he was giving a ride to the courthouse to two women who had placed stolen property in the back of his truck.
When the mother of the women began yelling at him, stating everything in his truck was stolen, he “blew off” her accusations and left before her boyfriend could reach him, the report stated.
He stated he was unaware a sheriff’s deputy had been following him to the Seabreeze Apartments; a point the probation officer who conducted the interview had trouble believing because the deputy was in a marked car with his lights on, the report said.
When he arrived at the apartments, Heggie found himself with a black unmarked car in front of him and a man pointing a gun at him, he reported. He stated he did not see a badge and “just wanted to get out of there.”