Half of female robbery duo sentenced to up to life in prison
A woman accused of committing a string of crimes in the Salt Lake Valley was sentenced Wednesday to prison for up to life for attempted aggravated murder and aggravated robbery.
Sandra Chotia-Thompson, 41, must serve a minimum of five years behind bars under the sentence imposed by 3rd District Judge Katie Bernards-Goodman.
Charging documents allege Chotia-Thompson was one half of a duo that committed a slew of robberies throughout the Salt Lake Valley from December 2012 to January 2013.
The sentence stems from a Jan. 5, 2013, robbery that led to a shootout with a Murray police officer in the parking lot of a Family Dollar Store.
Chotia-Thompson pleaded guilty in February to the two counts as part of a plea bargain and the other charges were dismissed.
Her partner in the crimes, 38-year-old Kelly Fay Simons, was shot dead four days after the Murray shootout by a member of the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team (JCAT) when she tried to run down officers with her pickup, according to police. Chotia-Thompson was arrested later that day and eventually charged with 13 crimes.
The charges had alleged Chotia-Thompson committed holdups at The Grocery Store in Salt Lake City, a Scaddy's Restaurant and the Family Dollar store in Murray. In addition, search warrants show police investigated crimes at eight more businesses that Chotia-Thompson and Simons were accused of robbing or attempting to rob.
The warrants say the pair committed their crimes wearing wigs, masks, oversized trench coats, gloves and hats. They would order something at the counter or approach a cashier, then rob employees at gunpoint and take off in a car, according to the warrants.
In the incident outside the Family Dollar Store, a police officer followed one of the women to a car and the other woman, who was seated inside the vehicle, fired several shots in his direction, according to court documents. Both women ran away after the car would not start.
Simons was killed on Jan. 9, 2013, near Liberty Park where police had tracked her down. Investigators had identified the two women as suspects in the crimes and a JCAT officer who was attempting to serve Simons with an arrest warrant fired four shots when she tried to run over officers.
Officers reached Chotia-Thompson on her cell phone soon afterward and arrested her after tracing her location to a Smith's store at 455 S. 600 East.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has ruled the officer who fatally shot Simons was legally justified in using deadly force.