Curtis Michael Allgier was free for 45 minutes.
The 33-year-old, heavily tattooed "white-power skinhead" was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing Utah Corrections Officer Stephen Anderson during a brazen escape attempted in June 2007.
"One thing we can absolutely be certain of is that this defendant will never be allowed to walk out ever again," Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said after the hearing. "He's going to spend the rest of his natural life in prison, and that is where he is going to die and be held responsible for the crime that he has committed."
In the Salt Lake City courtroom, Allgier, shackled and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, turned to Anderson's family and wept as he mixed apologies with excuses for the events of June 25, 2007.
"Just because I've got tattoos on my face and I'm proud of my race, I'm not some violent monster," he said.
In court Wednesday, Allgier and his attorneys disputed the claims of what occurred after the shooting, calling them "absurd" and saying they could have beaten those lesser charges at trial. Instead, Allgier accepted a plea deal that removed the possibility of a death penalty and pleaded no contest to the disputed charges "out of respect" to Anderson's family.
Turning to Anderson's family, he said: "I took your dad ... . So I can't keep fighting it."
Allgier called his victim "a great man."
Anderson's son, Shawn Anderson, also called his father that.
The younger Anderson, a Utah Corrections officer himself, has his father's features, his nose and his chin a fact that 3rd Judge Paul Maughan said he hoped might comfort the grieving family.
"You can't replace a man like that," Shawn Anderson said.
Maughan's order seven consecutive life sentences will help provide closure, Anderson's family said.
"We can spend less time think about the act that took his life and more time thinking about his example and the life he lived," his son said.
Shawn Anderson and his sister, Sherrie Hardy, both said they have forgiven Allgier.
"I don't have any ill feelings against him," Hardy told reporters outside the courtroom. "I don't want to spend my life thinking about that. It would ruin the good memories, so I choose not to."
Anderson, 60, escorted Allgier to a University Hospital visit. Without a pair of plastic flex-cuffs to use, Anderson removed Allgier's metal handcuffs so that he could undergo an MRI scan.
Allgier said he had taken prescription pills that day and that the medication kicked in during the visit. Free from his shackles, Allgier said he saw a door, thought of his family, and a made a choice.
But before shooting Anderson, Allgier claims he tried to talk the officer into simply letting him go.
"I told him $15 an hour ain't worth it," Allgier told Anderson's family in court Wednesday. "You go home to your family and I'm going home to mine."
Allgier said a struggle ensued and that with both men fighting on the floor, Anderson's weapon went off twice.
"I never wanted to hurt him," Allgier said. "I didn't want him to die."
"I made a poor choice in life, and I'm going to pay for that with my life," Allgier added.
But prosecutors said the shooting was "anything but an accident." Anderson was shot twice, both from close range, and once in the head "execution style."
After the shooting, Allgier stole an SUV from a U. physician outside the clinic. He changed clothes at a girlfriend's home, then led police on a high-speed chase. During the chase, Allgier tried to run over a sheriff's deputy waiting outside his car to disable Allgier's stolen vehicle with a tire ripper.
When a rear tire went flat, Allgier ran into an Arby's restaurant near 1700 South and Redwood Road, where Eric Fullerton had just ordered a ham-and-cheese croissant and orange juice for breakfast.
According to testimony at a 2010 preliminary hearing, Allgier pointed the gun at Fullerton and then grabbed an employee, Alejandro Gomez, around the neck and put a gun to his head.
Allgier, who was serving a sentence at the time for burglary and forgery while awaiting federal incarceration for weapons violations, dragged Gomez into the kitchen area. Gomez either tripped or struggled and Allgier fired a shot that barely missed the employee's head. Then Allgier beat him with the butt of the gun.
Fullerton, then 59, who is 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds, "went into action," grabbing the much larger Allgier's arm and trying to pry his fingers from the weapon. Allgier punched Fullerton and then slashed his throat with a knife.
"I didn't feel pain," Fullerton has said. "I did feel the coldness of the blade and I heard the sound."
Moments later, the Vietnam veteran said he pried loose Allgier's fingers. The gun dropped to the floor and Fullerton grabbed it.
Police entered the restaurant and arrested Allgier after less than an hour on the lam.