Bradford R. Fenocchio
PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
For Immediate Release
Date: December 1, 2010
Public Information Officer
MAN IS SENTENCED TO 121 YEARS IN PRISON FOR GUN
BATTLE WITH PLACER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICERS
A 46-year-old Applegate man who stood off a Placer County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team in a gun battle in which an estimated 50 to 70 rounds were fired in Newcastle in 2006 was sentenced today to 121 years and eight months to life in a state prison.
David Allan Virgo, convicted Sept. 1 by a trial jury on 22 felony counts, including 10 charges of attempted murder, was given the sentence by Placer County Superior Court Judge Colleen Nichols, who announced her intention to lock up the defendant for the rest of his life.
“There is no possibility that Mr. Virgo will be able to complete his sentence,” Nichols said as she handed out five consecutive terms of 15 years to life in prison as well as 46 more years for various special allegations related to assault and weapons violations.
The judge noted that Virgo exhibited “extremely dangerous behavior” during the Oct. 18, 2006, confrontation with the officers, who had surrounded the Newcastle home in which the defendant was partying with friends. Despite the many rounds fired between Virgo and the officers, no one was injured in the gun battle.
Ten members of the Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Team, similar to a SWAT team, had surrounded the home on Happy Hollow Lane and had a warrant for Virgo’s arrest.
But before the officers could make peaceful contact with Virgo, a partygoer who was outside the home spotted them. Soon after, shots were heard coming from inside the house.
Officers responded by shooting out a floodlight that illuminated the outside yard. During subsequent gunfire, five unarmed people came out of the home and crawled to safety with the aid of the SET team. Virgo stayed in the home alone exchanging shots with the SET team.
During Virgo’s trial, officers testified that Virgo could be heard yelling that he had explosives and that he would “blow the place up. I’ll kill everyone.” But the standoff eventually ended when Virgo surrendered.
After a month-long trial, a Placer County jury returned on Sept. 1 with guilty verdicts on the 10 charges of attempted murder and 10 more charges of assault with a firearm on a peace officer. The jury also found Virgo guilty of two felony counts of being a felon in possession of firearms.
In addition, the jurors determined that multiple special allegations that the defendant used firearms and acted with premeditation were true.
In today’s proceedings, Nichols denied a motion by Virgo’s defense lawyer for a new trial. She imposed the five consecutive terms of 15 years to life in prison for five of the attempted murder convictions.
Nichols then gave Virgo five more 15-years-to-life sentences for the five other attempted murder convictions. However, she ordered the latter prison terms to run concurrently with the first set.
The judge also imposed a sentence of 90 years in prison for 10 of the assault counts against Virgo but she stayed that penalty because the counts are lesser-included offenses of the attempted murder convictions.
Following the sentencing, Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeff Wilson, who prosecuted the case, said he hoped the long prison sentence would deliver a message to any “would-be cop killers” like Virgo, and he praised law enforcement officers who put themselves at risk each day in the line of duty.
“You may not always agree with an officer or the way he might do something, but you don’t shoot at them and try to kill them,” he said.