Amy Wells wept quietly during her sentencing on charges of assaulting a police officer, head bowed in her orange jumpsuit, hair tied back in a severe ponytail.
She had apologized to the officers she had attacked and she expressed remorse for her decisions. The prison sentence represented the unraveling of her life that started with her failure to pay a fine for drunk driving, said prosecutors. She also got caught up in a relationship with a Payson police officer that led to his demotion for harassment.
Regardless, Judge Peter Cahill sentenced her to three-and-a-half years in the Arizona Department of Corrections for assaulting the officers. Upon her release, Cahill ordered her to participate in three years of probation with drug tests for using methamphetamine while in custody.
The three felony convictions stemmed from three separate incidents, including assaults on two officers.
“My hope is that you’ve learned your lesson and will not come back to the Gila County Jail,” said Cahill in the Payson courtroom on Monday morning.
The courtroom was filled to overflowing with nine Gila County sheriff’s deputies.
Wells attacked two different officers a year to the day apart from each other, said a press release from the Gila County Attorney’s Office.
The press release said on May 17, 2012, Wells kicked Lt. William Carlson in the groin while they waited at Payson Regional Medical Center. She and Carlson were in the emergency room after she slipped in the shower and hurt her head. While the two waited, Wells got up from her chair and started walking toward the main lobby.
When Carlson grabbed her arm to stop her, she kicked him.
At that time, County Attorney Daisy Flores’ office decided not to prosecute her for the assault.
One year later, on May 17, 2013, while on “warrant status” as a result of numerous misdemeanors, she spat in the face of Officer Christopher Lisenbee during a confrontation.
Then on July 23, 2013, Wells used methamphetamine smuggled into the jail by another inmate.
County Attorney Bradley Beauchamp’s office not only charged her for an assault on Lisenbee but also decided to charge her for kicking Lt. Carlson a year earlier.
Deputy County Attorney Shawn Fuller said he took into account her “lengthy” misdemeanor criminal history. “I told the judge to send a message to the defendant and to others that these types of assaults on law enforcement will not be tolerated.”
In the courtroom, Wells’ defense attorney Barry Standifird described Wells’ long battle with mental illness as part of the reason for her choices.
“Justice must be tempered with mercy,” said Standifird. “It’s been difficult, but she has made ends meet ... she was diagnosed with severe mental health issues at the age of 6 ... (which creates) extreme mitigation in this case.”
Standifird also reminded the judge that Wells had been “abused” by Payson Police Officer Josh LaManna, who sent her photos of his genitalia and solicited her. The officer was reprimanded, but not fired for that incident. He was later fired for another offense.
Standifird said this traumatized Wells.
“If you can’t trust a police officer, who can you trust?” Standifird asked Cahill. “In a very real sense, Officer LaManna victimized these officers.”
Nonetheless, Cahill sentenced Wells to the three-and-a-half years in the Arizona Correctional Facility and three years of probation and drug testing.