BLACKFOOT - Juan Santos-Quintero, the 23-year-old Idaho Falls man who shot and wounded a Bingham County Sheriff’s Deputy during a standoff with police last September, will spend the next 27 years and up to life behind bars.
Seventh District Judge Darren Simpson on Tuesday handed down sentences to Santos-Quintero of 20 years fixed and indeterminate life for aggravated battery in the wounding of Deputy Sgt. Todd Howell; seven years fixed and 20 years indeterminate for aggravated assault in firing on Deputy Jake VanOrden; seven years fixed and 20 indeterminate for firing on Deputy Brock Katseanes; five years fixed and 20 indeterminate for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm; five years fixed and 20 years indeterminate for grand theft; and five years to life for the enhancement charge of being a persistent violator.
Simpson said the first two sentences will run consecutively — one after the other — and the rest will run concurrently with the first two, meaning they will be served at the same time.
The charges stemmed from a shootout between Santos-Quintero and law enforcement officers from Bingham and Bonneville counties during a standoff at a house in Firth on Sept. 21, 2018.
Santos-Quintero showed no emotion other than swinging his chair back and forth as he sat beside his public defender Manuel Murdoch during the approximately 45-minute sentencing hearing.
No witnesses were called by Murdoch, but Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers called Sheriff’s Deputy Capt. Mark Cowley, who brought a recording made of a telephone call between Santos-Quintero and a woman in which he referred to himself as a gangster and stated he wouldn’t last more then two months in prison.
Murdoch gave an eloquent argument on behalf of his client and asked for a sentence of no more than 10 years fixed, saying he had learned much about Santos-Quintero while visiting with him and that he had a terrible childhood filled with abuse, neglect, things he witnessed and other things Santos-Quintero asked him not to go into detail about that had filled him with anger and driven him to drug abuse.
“He did not have a good upbringing,” Murdoch said, adding that he was subjected to ill treatment by people who should have loved him.
Murdoch said different people react differently to such treatment, but Santos-Quintero is young enough that he still has time to have a decent life with treatment, counseling, and rehabilitation. “He’s already been to prison once, but he wants to change. He wants a chance to be a husband and have a family.”
In his turn, Rogers was equally eloquent in pointing out the reasons why Santos-Quintero should be locked up. He said the first two are tolerance and security — the judicial system must show people like the defendant that it and society will not tolerate the kinds of things that were perpetrated against them by Santos-Quintero, and the public should have the security of knowing these things will not be allowed.
Also, Rogers said, the judicial system and society needs to send a message to protectors in law enforcement that attacks on them by people like Santos-Quintero will not be tolerated.
He detailed past behavior by the defendant, in and out of prison and in and out of jail, that shows he has an uncurbed tendency to violence, noting he was once charged with aggravated assault while in prison and had additional time added to his sentence. He said Santos-Quintero has been given chances in the past to change his behavior and failed.
“When something of this gravity happens, what we do here in sentencing will affect all of southeast Idaho” Rogers said. “If we don’t make an impact here of a no-tolerance policy, if we don’t let law enforcement know we appreciate what they do, we’re not going to have them. They’re going to be looking for new jobs.”
He noted that something like being shot at as the officers were must worry them and give them pause when the next call for assistance comes in — whether they will have to face the same circumstance.
Rogers said Santos-Quintero had his first brush with authority as a juvenile and has not changed since. “He’s spent most of the last 11 years behind bars. He says he wants to change, but his record doesn’t support that.”
Rogers recommended a sentence of 20 years fixed, and that sentences for the first three counts against him run consecutively for a total of 32 years fixed.
In pronouncing sentence on Santos-Quintero, Simpson said he has to consider deterrence as well as punishment and rehabilitation. “You now have eight felony convictions,” he told Santos-Quintero, adding that attempts at rehabilitation don’t appear to have worked. He said Santos-Quintero has already been diagnosed as bipolar with anxiety and would be surprised if he wouldn’t also be diagnosed as having anti-social behavior.
Simpson told Santos-Quintero he hadn’t taken advantage of any of the rehabilitation offered in the past, that his behavior shows his unwillingness to accept responsibility for his actions, and that he has a callous and immature nature. “Your attitude today makes it clear you don’t take this too seriously,” he added.
Simpson said also that Santos-Quintero’s demeanor and current and past behavior makes it clear that he would repeat his past conduct if he’s allowed out into the community.
Fines and fee assessed against Santos-Quintero by Simpson amounted to around $10,000, and Rogers said restitution claims in excess of $20,000 have been brought against him for damage to property the night of the shootout. Murdoch responded that his client objects to having to pay restitution.
Simpson said a hearing on the restitution claims will be scheduled.