A man who led police on a two-hour, high-speed car chase last year was sentenced Friday to two years in prison.
Christopher Sowder, 25, received 18 months for the car chase and six months for introducing contraband into the La Plata County Jail.
Sowder led police on a chase July 28 from Durango, northeast toward Vallecito and eventually to an irrigation pond north of Bayfield.
He and a co-defendant, Dillon McCarthy, who also received 18 months in prison, threw skis, a guitar amp, a chain saw, a bag of dry-mix cement, drug paraphernalia and spray paint cans at police from a stolen Toyota Land Cruiser while attempting to flee.
The car chase ended just north of Bayfield, where Sowder and McCarthy fled on foot and hid in an irrigation pond. Police found the duo after a 45-minute search. Both were charged with aggravated motor vehicle theft, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, resisting arrest, obstruction and theft.
While staying at the La Plata County Jail, Sowder was found to be in possession of tattoo needles and other tattoo equipment – contraband that landed him in prison for six additional months.
Sowder was facing up to three years in prison for eluding police.
District Court Judge Todd Norvell said Sowder caused several close calls and three near head-on collisions during the two-hour chase: “Someone could have been killed,” he said.
But in a plea agreement with prosecutors, Sowder admitted his guilt and took responsibility for his actions, something Norvell said weighs in his favor.
Sowder’s attorney, Rae Randolph, asked that Sowder be sentenced to a rehabilitation center in Albany, New York, where he could receive treatment for his drug addiction. Sowder was high when he committed the crime, something Norvell acknowledged was likely a factor.
“I take full responsibility for what I did,” Sowder told Norvell. “I ask for the opportunity to go to rehab and get on with my life.”
Prosecutor Reid Stewart argued for a three-year sentence, saying that although he supports treatment for convicts, the potential danger to a community was too high to ask for anything less than the maximum sentence allowed under the terms of the plea agreement.
“This is a dangerous offense,” Stewart said.