DENVER (AP) – A woman who pleaded guilty to buying the handgun used to kill the director of Colorado’s prisons was sentenced to more than two years in prison and three years supervision Monday.
Prosecutors had asked for six years for Stevie Marie Anne Vigil, for buying the handgun for Evan Ebel, a parolee and member of a white supremacist prison gang. But federal Judge Christine Arguello said prosecutors had failed to show Vigil knew of Ebel’s plans.
Federal prosecutors said Ebel used the gun in the killings of prison chief Tom Clements and Nathan Leon, a Denver computer technician and pizza deliveryman, and to wound a sheriff’s deputy in Texas, where Ebel fled. Ebel was killed in a shootout with Texas authorities.
“She wanted an intimate relationship with Ebel and he used that knowledge and information over her to get her to buy a gun that he couldn’t buy himself,” Arguello said of Vigil, calling Ebel a master manipulator who was determined to get a handgun and would have done so even if Vigil refused to provide it.
“Nothing would have deterred him. He would have found a way to carry out his longstanding plan.”
The judge also cited Vigil’s troubled childhood and nearly spotless record. Vigil, 23, showed no visible reaction to the sentence. After the hearing, her attorney, Daniel Smith, said she got what she had requested.
“We were asking to be sentenced on the crimes that Ms. Vigil committed, not the crimes Mr. Ebel committed,” Smith said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hosley told the judge: “While it was Evan Ebel who pulled the trigger, it was this defendant who put the gun in his hand. It’s an amazing swath of destruction that just one handgun can cause.”
Members of the Clements family had been scheduled to testify but found it would be too painful, Hosley said.
Leon’s father did testify Monday.
“Evan Ebel was an evil person,” John Leon said in a courtroom where other relatives of his son could be seen dabbing at their eyes. “To give a weapon to an evil person … you had to expect something bad to happen.”
John Leon later told reporters he believed the judge had been too lenient with her 27-month sentence.
Texas Deputy James Boyd also addressed the court Monday, describing being shot in the forehead and chest, undergoing surgery to have a titanium plate placed in his head, and being left with poor balance and memory and no sense of smell.
Speaking of Vigil, Boyd said: “she should be charged not only with aggravated assault but also with the murder of two innocent victims.”
During the hearing, videos were shown from cameras mounted in the cars of Boyd and other Texas law enforcement officers who encountered Ebel. Boyd could be seen falling to the ground. The chase that ended with Ebel’s death also was shown, and Ebel could be seen firing at deputies from his car.
Last April, Clements’s widow told CNN that she refused to be angry that Ebel was released from prison four years early because of a clerical error. Ebel then removed the ankle monitoring bracelet he was required to wear.
“Much like the incident itself, I could become enraged. For the rest of my days, I could be angry that someone made a mistake and didn’t capture what a judge conveyed,” Lisa Clements said.
Tom Clements, 58, was fatally shot when he answered the door of his Monument home on March 19.
Authorities have said Ebel, 28, killed Leon two days before by luring him to a remote intersection by ordering a pizza.
With Ebel dead, Vigil has so far been the only person to face a criminal charge related to the prison chief’s killing. In court Monday, the judge said Ebel was clearly responsible for the crimes.
Although El Paso County sheriff’s investigators have not definitively named Ebel the gunman, they have linked the 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun Vigil purchased for Ebel to both killings. Nearly a year after the killings, investigators have said they are continuing to investigate whether Ebel, a member of the 211 Crew, acted alone or if the killings had gang ties.
BY SADIE GURMAN, Associated Press
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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