In Loving Memory
VISTA - A Vista man who fired a
shotgun at a sheriff's deputy, caused the injury of a 20-year-old
ride-along and killed a police dog will spend the rest of his life
in prison, a judge ruled yesterday. A Superior Court Judge
Marguerite Wagner sentenced Robert Quintero, 34, to three
consecutive life terms for shooting at a patrol vehicle in January.
A jury found him guilty of attempted murder and other charges Aug.
1991 - April 18, 2000
Steven F. Reichert
Team in Erie
Prosecutors said Quintero fired six
times at Deputy Dan Settle's parked patrol car Jan. 18 before he ran
north across state Route 78 near Melrose Drive and escaped into a
residential area. He was captured at his home the next morning. One
shot went through the front window of the patrol car and fatally
wounded Settle's canine partner, a 5-year-old German shepherd named
Urk, who was in the back seat. Settle made a tearful statement to
the judge, noting how close he and Explorer scout Brenton Tracy came
to death on the night of the shooting. "The only reason that I am
before you today is because Robert Quintero missed," Settle said.
"Unfortunately, Robert Quintero is before you today because I too
missed." Settle then addressed his remarks to Urk, calling the dog
a "true hero" who tried to pursue Quintero even after being shot
through the heart. "I am sorry that I was not by your side as you
took your last breath," Settle said. "I have never met another human
partner that would go unarmed into that kind of dangerous scenario
to protect others. "It is for that reason that your loss is such a
great one." Tracy, now 21, also testified yesterday. He was hit in
the elbow by one of Settle's bullets that ricocheted off the ground
when the deputy returned fire at Quintero. "Today my arm works all
right," Tracy said, adding that he's had two surgeries on his arm.
He said the emotional impact of that night hasn't gone away. "Every
day I have to relive what happened on the night of Jan. 18," he
said. "Sometimes it's like a videotape playing over and over and
over." Quintero apologized to Settle and Tracy
and called them both brave men. He said he acted out of character
that night, adding that he was depressed because he had just broken
up with his girlfriend. "I'm a peaceful, easygoing person,"
Quintero said. "Anyone who knows me would tell you the same thing.
I'm respectful and more than courteous to even the baddest of men."
In a rambling speech, he told the judge he accepted responsibility
for his actions but maintained that he never intended to kill
anyone, only to scare them. But the judge said Quintero never
appeared to show remorse during the trial.
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