Trial Begins For Mills Man Who Led Police On City-wide Chase
The bench trial began Monday for a Mills man who allegedly shot out the back and front windows of a pickup, pointed a gun at people twice, and led police on a chase through Casper.
If convicted on the eight felony counts, Doyle Gabbert could be sentenced to life imprisonment, especially because prosecutors are seeking to have him designated an habitual criminal because of conviction of previous felonies.
In her opening statement, Gabbert's defense attorney, Kerri Johnson, asked for leniency from Natrona County District Court Judge Catherine Wilking.
"This case is about perceived threats," Johnson said. "If he did commit any offenses, it was because he was protecting himself."
Gabbert got out of prison in August 2015, and had a stable life, she said.
But he had trouble adjusting socially, believed he was being persecuted and laughed at, and began using methamphetamine to self medicate, Johnson said.
And all that contributed to the events of Aug. 10-12.
Gabbert, 37, waived his right to a jury trial and asked for the bench trial on Jan. 31.
The case began Aug. 10, when a man was driving a pickup east on 11th Street and approached the intersection of Payne Avenue on his way to his home on Trigood Drive.
The man testified he was beginning to drive into the intersection and nearly hit Gabbert, who pulled over, stopped, got out of his sport utility vehicle and approached him. The two men argued, Gabbert walked back to his car and the man began driving away. Gabbert then fired a shot from a handgun shattering the pickup's rear window and hitting the front windshield.
Gabbert was not seen until the morning of Aug. 12
That morning, a man was driving in a car with a young man and a woman east on 12th street and were going to Ridley's east side grocery store.
The woman testified another friend was in another car and they passed a dark colored sedan with the passenger, Gabbert, waving a gun at them. When they pulled into the Ridley's parking lot, the sedan parked a few spaces away. The man and his passengers exited their car, she said.
Gabbert got out of his car and hit the windshield of the man's car. Gabbert demanded the keys from the man, who said no. Gabbert then pointed the pistol at the man and the woman.
Gabbert then walked away and the driver of the sedan picked him up.
That's when the chase began.
The driver of the sedan went to the parking lot of Hobby Lobby, where Gabbert ran to the Hilltop Storage units, dropped his gun and a towel, scaled a fence, and stole a van from a woman who was getting stuffed animals and toys for her daily trip to grocery stores.
Patrol Officer Ben Flake was among the law enforcement officers who joined the chase. Video from his dash camera showed the route Gabbert took west on Second Street, then cut north on Iowa and then Nebraska streets, continued west, turned right on North Center Street.
Gabbert crashed the van into a fence on North Wolcott Street, ran south on an alley to the Loaf 'N' Jug store on North Center Street, and jumped into the cab of a Coca Cola tractor trailer.
Law enforcement officers surrounded the tractor, Flake said. Gabbert refused to come out. A K-9 officer jumped into the cab and bit him in the left shoulder. The dog's handler then pulled Gabbert out, took him to the ground, and handcuffed him.
The trial resumes today.