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Wal Mart Stores : Walmart shooting suspect guilty

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10/21/2017 | 02:20pm CEST

Oct. 21-- value="LU/us.pa.wilrre" idsrc="xmltag.org">WILKES-BARRE -- Moments after being convicted of attempted murder for shooting at police and civilians in a shopping center parking lot, Scott Sargent left the courthouse Friday in handcuffs, with a smirk on his face.

It was the look Stacey Bouton, wife of value="LU/us.pa.wilrre" idsrc="xmltag.org">Wilkes-Barre Twp. police Officer Brian Bouton, said she saw during his four-day trial.

"I'm just glad the jury looked through that smug look he had on his face all throughout court to see what a liar he was and that it was not an accident to shoot at these officers or toward civilians, for that matter," said Stacey Bouton, whose husband ducked out of the way an instant before a shot struck the headrest of his SUV. "The officers did their job, and they put their lives on the line."

Sargent, 33, of value="LU/us.pa.sheoah" idsrc="xmltag.org">Shenandoah, was on trial on attempted-murder charges alleging he opened fire on police and civilians behind the value="NYSE:WMT" idsrc="xmltag.org">Walmart at the value="LU/us.pa.wilrre" idsrc="xmltag.org">Wilkes-Barre Twp. Marketplace in October 2015.

After about two hours of deliberations, jurors convicted Sargent on five counts of attempted murder of a law officer, as well as six counts of assaulting a law officer, one count of aggravated assault and nine counts of reckless endangerment.

"I'm proud and honored that I've been able, on behalf of the district attorney's office, to present this case for the heroes that risked their own lives for the public and each other that day," Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino said after the verdict.

The jury found Sargent not guilty on one count each of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment related to two civilians who were in the area of the shooting.

After the verdict was read, value="LU/us.pa.luzrne" idsrc="xmltag.org">Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas found Sargent guilty of harassment for spitting on a medic who treated him after police shot him. Sargent, who faces decades of prison time at sentencing, will remain incarcerated at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility until he is sentenced Dec. 14.

Prosecutors alleged Sargent chose the location -- a crowded shopping center on a Saturday afternoon -- in an effort to inflict maximum terror as he chose to wage war against police.

Testifying during trial, Sargent contended he didn't intend to kill anyone that day, and didn't even realize he was fighting the police.

He said he thought he was being followed and opened fire in an attempt to scare off his pursuers.

Ferentino, however, said his account didn't make sense.

"Nothing that the defendant claimed in court made any sense when compared to the physical evidence and the eyewitness testimony," Ferentino said. "Everything he claimed flew in the face of our entire presentation. His only option -- he couldn't say it wasn't him -- so his only option was to say, 'I didn't know.' And the jury didn't buy it."

Jurors heard that Sargent had been drinking at Mohegan Sun Pocono in value="LU/us.pa.plains" idsrc="xmltag.org">Plains Twp. prior to the shooting. They also heard some drug references, but did not hear that Sargent had been heavily using methamphetamine and other drugs.

Defense attorney Joseph Yeager said he thought that could have played a role in the outcome.

"The way he was charged, it was not admissible. But we felt that the jury should know the entire picture of Scott Sargent," Yeager said. "He had mental issues, which we were not allowed to bring out either. And it just contributed to the intent aspect of the case."

During closing arguments, defense co-counsel Melissa Sulima disputed the prosecution contention that Sargent went to value="NYSE:WMT" idsrc="xmltag.org">Walmart to "raise hell." In fact, he went there with his girlfriend to pick up some things before going to a hotel, she said.

"If Scott intended to injure people and attempt to hurt people, why not go to the middle of the value="NYSE:WMT" idsrc="xmltag.org">Walmart parking lot?" Sulima said. "Where does Scott go? All the way in the back."

The shooting eventually ended after value="LU/us.pa.wilrre" idsrc="xmltag.org">Wilkes-Barre police Officer Alan Gribble followed Sargent behind some shipping containers and blasted him with a shotgun. Gribble previously testified that Sargent had raised his rifle up toward him.

During his closing, Ferentino told jurors that the gunshots that flew past Gribble's head and those that hit police vehicles other officers were using as shields prove that Sargent was trying to kill them.

"He didn't shoot Officer Gribble because Officer Gribble was quicker on the draw. That's it," Ferentino said. "You don't get points for missing, and you don't get points for being slow on the draw."

Sargent faces a separate trial on a count of possessing a firearm as a felon. That charge was severed in an effort to prevent jurors from learning about his criminal past, although some of it came out during trial anyway.

After the verdict, Ferentino said prosecutors intend to pursue the charge despite the fact that Sargent is likely to spend decades in prison.

"We're going to do whatever we have to do to ensure that Scott Sargent never sees the outside of a jail cell," Ferentino said.

Contact the writer:

[email protected]

570-821-2058

class="shirttail">___

class="shirttail">(c)2017 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

class="shirttail">Visit The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) at citizensvoice.com

class="shirttail">Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News

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