Great Falls Man Gets 20 Years in Prison for Robbery, Chase

Same man is also charged with killing deputy in unrelated case

By Molly Priddy

GREAT FALLS — A Great Falls man charged with killing a Cascade County sheriff’s deputy during a high-speed chase in August has been sentenced to 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole in an unrelated case involving an alleged armed robbery and chase last year.

Adam Sanchez Jr., 40, was sentenced Tuesday for two felony counts of criminal endangerment.

Prosecutors say he shot at a man with a crossbow and tried to rob him in November before leading authorities on a chase that resulted in a crash between a patrol car and another vehicle, the Great Falls Tribune (http://gftrib.com/1AvM9RB) reports.

Sanchez entered into a plea agreement on July 29 in which prosecutors agreed to recommend a 10-year probationary sentence. Because of the sentencing recommendation and because the state dismissed separate drug and weapons charges — believing federal prosecutors would pursue them — Sanchez was released from custody.

Sanchez had been free for about two weeks when 33-year-old Deputy Joe Dunn was struck and killed by a vehicle on Aug. 14. Prosecutors say he was outside of his vehicle when Sanchez intentionally swerved and struck him.

Public defender Nichole Lovrich asked Tuesday that Sanchez be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas to the criminal endangerment charges after prosecutors indicated they were going to seek a stiffer sentence than was called for in the plea agreement.

District Judge Kenneth Neill rejected the request and pointed out that the agreement under which Sanchez pleaded guilty was nonbinding.

“The prospects of rehabilitation for the defendant are in my mind nonexistent,” Neill said, adding that his sentence was not intended to suggest that Sanchez was guilty in Dunn’s death. “That will be the province of a future jury.”

Neill also ordered Sanchez to pay nearly $22,000 in restitution.

Sanchez remains jailed in Chouteau County with bail set at $5 million. He has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide and other felony charges for the chase that led to Dunn’s death.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.