Man In Armed Standoff West Of Casper In June Pleads Guilty To Aggravated Assault
A man pleaded guilty to robbing an angler at gunpoint and engaging in an armed standoff with law enforcement in June during a change-of-plea hearing in Natrona County District Court on Wednesday.
Zachary Lovelace, who was 37 when arrested, entered the pleas to four counts of aggravated assault before District Court Judge Daniel Forgey.
Lovelace had pleaded not guilty in July.
In exchange for the plea, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri agreed the state would drop charges of felony property destruction and one count of possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent.
The agreement includes a cap on the sentences to be run concurrently. Aggravated assault is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment. Lovelace also must pay restitution for the property he destroyed.
Lovelace's public defender Rob Oldham asked Forgey to reduce the bond from $500,000 to $50,000.
Oldham said Lovelace has accepted responsibility for his actions, time has passed since the crime, he had no intention of injuring law enforcement officers, he can stay with family members while out on bond, and he had virtually no criminal record before the June incident.
Lovelace also committed the crime while using methamphetamine, Oldham said.
However, Taheri said the $500,000 bond is appropriate because of the seriousness of the crimes. If Lovelace resumes using methamphetamine, he again may have an encounter with law enforcement, Taheri said.
Forgey said circumstances have changed, and reset Lovelace's bond to $100,000. The judge also ordered a presentence investigation and will set a sentencing date later.
The case started June 2 when Lovelace allegedly approached a man who was fishing at the Bessemer Bend south fishing access, according to court documents.
Lovelace drove a pickup, got out, asked for the man's cell phone to make an emergency call, but returned to the pickup and drove away.
The man followed in his all-terrain vehicle, Lovelace drove the pickup in reverse to the man, pointed a handgun at him and ordered him to put his hands up.
The man waited until Lovelace drove away, went home, called his wife and called authorities. His wife tracked the stolen phone to the 6800 block of Sharrock Road.
Authorities went there, and Lovelace's mother said her son went into the attic of the house.
Officers pumped a chemical munition into the attic and Lovelace fire four shots from the attic to the general direction of officers.
After several hours, Lovelace punched a hole through a ceiling in a bedroom, crawled out a window, tried to run away but slipped. Officers then took him into custody.
The four aggravated assault charges were for pointing the gun at the angler and shooting at the three law enforcement officers.