Man Who Admitted to Killing Nevada Soldier Sentenced to Life in Jail | Nevada News

ELY, Nevada (AP) – A 67-year-old Nevada man with known bipolar disorder was sentenced to life without parole on Tuesday for ambushing and killing a veteran highway patrol sergeant on a highway remote in March 2020.

John Leonard Dabritz, a former resident of the small mining town of Ruth, White Pine County, avoided a trial to the death penalty when he changed his plea in July to guilty but mentally ill in death from Sgt. Ben Jenkins, a highway patroller decorated with Elko.

White Pine County District Judge Steve Dobrescu told Dabritz upon sentencing that the shooting was “haunting” and “sheer evil,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“It doesn’t make any difference whether you drive or drive,” the judge said. “You killed a man who stopped to help you.”

White Pine County District Attorney James Beecher had said he had agreed to let Dabritz withdraw his previous insanity plea and avoid a trial to provide Jenkins’ family with “a fast and final closure, without lengthy calls or asking them to relive the horrific incident.

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Dabritz, chained and dressed in orange prison scrubs, was quickly taken away by officers after his conviction.

Dabritz was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was held at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City.

He underwent about two months of treatment in a mental institution before being found fit to stand trial last year for murder, arson, vehicle theft and firearms.

Authorities said Dabritz was heavily armed and fled in Jenkins’ uniform and the patrol van before crashing and surrendering as soldiers and sheriff’s deputies arrived not far from the line. White Pine-Lincoln County.

After the murder, the Review-Journal reported that Dabritz had spent weeks before the shooting on a paranoid quest to warn people of his theory that COVID-19 was spreading through water and sewer systems.

His was treated at William Bee Ririe Hospital in Ely and at a Behavioral Health Hospital in Las Vegas before his release a week before Jenkins was killed.

Jenkins, 47, married with four children, won highway patrol’s highest honor, the Gold Medal of Valor, in 2011.

Officials said he stopped to check on a seemingly stranded vehicle just before dawn on US Highway 93 outside of Ely, more than 400 miles north of Las Vegas.

Jenkins was the ninth PSN officer killed in the line of duty since 1911. A 10th, Private Micah May, died on July 29 – just days after Dabritz changed his plea – when he was struck by a vehicle driven by an armed hijacker suspect trying to escape soldiers on a busy highway near the Las Vegas Strip.

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