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Woman draws maximum sentence for role in 2013 shooting of deputy

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 27, 2014, at 11:13 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, March 27, 2014, at 11:26 a.m.

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A woman who pleaded no contest to attempted murder of a law enforcement officer was sentenced Wednesday to more than 20 years in prison.

Clara Crosser, 27, also was convicted of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, two counts of burglary, criminal damage to property and possession of methamphetamine for her role in a chase that ended in the shooting of a Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputy on March 11, 2013.

District Judge Faith Maughan imposed the maximum sentence on each charge and ordered Crosser to serve them consecutively.

Authorities said Crosser and Jason Perez, both of Gardner, led law enforcement officers on a 12-minute car chase that began when a sheriff’s deputy tried to stop a white Cadillac that was weaving in and out of traffic as it sped north on I-135.

The chase ended in Butler County, where Deputy Lucas Powell was shot by Perez when he confronted the suspects on a farm outside Potwin. Authorities said Perez, 36, also shot at a Butler County sheriff’s deputy before he was taken into custody.

The Sedgwick County deputy, Lucas Powell, testified in July that he lost vision in 25 percent of his right eye, and the vision is blurry in the remaining 75 percent.

Crosser’s lawyer, Christine Jones, said her client was essentially a hostage when Perez was exchanging gunfire with law enforcement officers. She argued that the sentence on the aggravated assault charge should run concurrently with the other sentences.

“She was not in control of anything that was going on that day,” she said.

Prosecutor Justen Phelps argued that the maximum sentence was appropriate because Crosser’s actions endangered the lives of two law enforcement officers. Maughan agreed.

“You chose to be with Mr. Perez,” she said in imposing the sentence. “You chose to go with him, and you chose to participate. To say that you were not in control of things, I don’t agree with that.”

Maughan also ordered Crosser to pay more than $100,000 in restitution.

Perez, who is facing 14 charges, is scheduled to stand trial next week.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @hlaviana.

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