Cheyenne Man Sentenced to Prison After High-Speed Chase
A Cheyenne man who led law enforcement on a high-speed chase through Colorado and Wyoming in a stolen van was sentenced to prison Monday in Albany County District Court.
Earl Hollis Mercer, 42, will spend 3-8 years behind bars with credit for time served after pleading no contest in January on one felony count of wrongful taking or disposing of property. Mercer was also ordered to pay $1,900 in restitution to Fort Collins Heating and Air for the damage he caused to a company vehicle during last summer’s pursuit.
Court documents say Mercer stole a 2012 Nissan cargo van from a home in Laporte, Colo., just before 7 p.m. on July 16. The man living at the residence told police he and his girlfriend had just gone outside to walk their dog when they saw the man’s company van pulling away.
The couple pursued the vehicle north on Highway 287 for about 30 miles while calling police.
Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers took over the chase as Mercer crossed into Wyoming. One trooper was able to spike the van’s tires near milepost 420 while Mercer was going 70 mph. Police say Mercer accelerated to 80 mph before his tires flattened and fell apart.
A Colorado deputy performed a pit maneuver, and the van ended up stuck in a ditch. According to the affidavit, troopers ordered Mercer from the driver’s seat at gunpoint, and had to forcibly restrain him.
Both witnesses said they didn’t know Mercer, and he did not have permission to take the van.
Mercer read a written statement in court Monday, and defense attorney Candace Pisciotti asked the court for a sentence of probation.
Prosecutor Kurt Britzius recommended the court impose three to five years imprisonment as specified by the plea agreement.
Judge Jeffrey Donnell cited Mercer’s 18 prior convictions, saying a five-year maximum was not enough.
“You say you’re a nonviolent offender, but this was a violent offense,” said Donnell.
Mercer will be transferred to Wyoming Department of Corrections custody when he is released from the Laramie County Detention Center, where he is serving time on a marijuana conviction.