Man Gets Life in Prison Without Parole in Cascade County Deputy’s Death

Sanchez, 41, was found guilty of deliberate homicide in October after a five-day trial in Billings

By Dillon Tabish

GREAT FALLS — A man convicted of killing a Cascade County deputy during a high-speed pursuit has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Adam Sanchez Jr. was sentenced Thursday for the August 2014 death of Deputy Joe Dunn, 33.

Sanchez, 41, was found guilty of deliberate homicide in October after a five-day trial in Billings. He was charged under the felony murder rule, which says a person participating in a felony can be charged with homicide if a death occurs.

District Judge Dirk Sandefur heard from Dunn’s family and co-workers during Thursday’s sentencing hearing.

“My sweetheart has been murdered,” Robynn Dunn, Joe’s widow, told the court. “There’s a gaping hole in many hearts.”

She said she can see the loss in her children’s eyes.

“The loss is massive,” Joe Dunn’s mother Linda wrote in a statement read in court. “He was the heart and soul of our family.”

Sheriff Bob Edwards said Dunn should “never leave the Montana State Prison until the day he dies.”

Authorities say the chase began in Great Falls and continued toward Geyser. During the pursuit, Sanchez turned his vehicle around and was headed back to Great Falls when he struck Dunn as he tried to deploy stop sticks to end the pursuit.

Sanchez’s attorney argued there was no evidence that his client intended to cause harm, and that he swerved to avoid the stop sticks.

Sanchez also was convicted of criminal endangerment for nearly striking a car with an 8-day-old infant inside, steering his vehicle toward another officer and assaulting another officer during the struggle to subdue Sanchez after the chase ended.

Sanchez was treated for methamphetamine toxicity after the chase, court records said.

Sanchez is serving a 20-year prison sentence for a previous armed robbery and law enforcement chase. He had been free pending sentencing at the time of Dunn’s death because the plea agreement in the first chase called for Sanchez to receive a probationary sentence.