GUTHRIE, Okla. (AP) — A man convicted of fatally shooting an Oklahoma sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to life in prison after the jury couldn’t agree on whether he should be sentenced to death.
District Judge Phillip Corley sentenced Nathan LeForce on Thursday, ending the four-week trial. LeForce, who was convicted of first-degree murder, will not be eligible for parole.
LeForce, 47, was convicted of gunning down Logan County Sheriff’s Deputy David Wade on April 18, 2017. Prosecutors sought the death penalty, arguing in a court filing that the shooting was “especially heinous, atrocious and cruel” and that LeForce otherwise would continue to be a threat.
Among those who testified during the sentencing phase were members of Wade’s family and 28 witnesses for the defense, including LeForce’s mother and children and a forensic psychologist who talked about LeForce’s drug use and traumatic experiences as a youth.
Corley imposed the life sentence after jurors informed him they were deadlocked after deliberating for about six hours, according to court records.
Oklahoma is among 22 states that require an automatic life sentence if a jury can’t reach a unanimous sentencing verdict in a death penalty case, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
District Attorney Laura Thomas didn’t immediately reply to a Friday phone message seeking comment.
Among the evidence presented during the trial was footage from Wade’s body camera showing LeForce raise a handgun and fire on the deputy while Wade was serving an eviction notice at a home near Mulhall, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Oklahoma City. Wade was shot four times, including in the face, but he still managed to return fire and to call for backup.
Authorities said LeForce then took Wade’s patrol vehicle and drove at high speed to a convenience store, where he stole another car at gunpoint. That car was found abandoned about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of Mulhall near Guthrie, where LeForce was found hiding in a building and surrendered to police.
In addition to the murder charge, LeForce was convicted of larceny of a vehicle and armed robbery in the case. His jury recommended prison sentences of 30 and 37 years on those charges, respectively. He’s due to be sentenced on those charges Sept. 20.