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Published March 29, 2012, 07:03 PM

Man Who Brought Gun to ND Court Gets 20 More Years

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A judge on Thursday added 20 years to the sentence of a man convicted of attempted murder for brandishing a gun after his conviction was announced in a western North Dakota courtroom.

By: Associated Press,

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A judge on Thursday added 20 years to the sentence of a man convicted of attempted murder for brandishing a gun after his conviction was announced in a western North Dakota courtroom.

Judge Steven McCullough on Thursday added the time to the 40 years Vicente Chacano had already received for his conviction in a child molestation case.

Chacano, a Chilean native who was working as a farmhand, was accused of taking the gun into a Hettinger courthouse last year and trying to fire it after the jury found him guilty.

The trial was moved to Fargo. Sentencing was held in Bismarck.

"We were happy to see that justice was served," prosecutor Jackson Lofgren told The Associated Press Thursday. "It needed to be a significant sentence to let people know if you try something like this in the justice system, the courts won't allow it."

Defense attorney Rob Quick didn't immediately respond to messages left at his office.

Witnesses said Chacano pulled the trigger several times, including directly at the chest of prosecutor Jonathan Byers, but the gun never fired. Byers and Eugene Molbert, the Adams County sheriff, combined to subdue Chacano.

Chacano originally was charged with 14 counts of attempted murder, including one count for each of the 12 jurors. He was found guilty on the two charges involving Byers and Molbert.

Prosecutors on Thursday presented victim impact statements from Byers, Molbert and many people who were in the courtroom that day, Lofgren said.

"They talked about how it had affected them, and what it has been like trying to get back to a normal life," the prosecutor said.

Chacano had testified that he had forgotten the gun was tucked into his pants, and that he panicked after being convicted of molesting a girl who was younger than 15. He said he doesn't remember pulling the trigger.

The case, along with an incident in Minnesota in which a prosecutor was shot and wounded, sparked demands for heightened security in small-town courthouses.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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