Curtis Allgier offered a rambling statement that mixed apology and a tribute to his victim with a rebuttal of the evidence against him, while cursing and ranting against the court system and his lawyers.
"I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I didn't want to hurt anybody. It was an accident," the 33-year-old inmate said at the hearing.
He added, "Just because I've got tattoos on my face and I'm proud of my race, I'm not some violent monster."
Prosecutors said the June 25, 2007, shooting was no accident. Allgier wrestled a gun from Stephen Anderson of Bluffdale after being unshackled for an MRI scan at a University of Utah medical clinic, they said. He then fled on foot and stole a vehicle before leading police on a highway chase at speeds exceeding 100 mph.
His freedom lasted 45 minutes.
Allgier pleaded no contest in October to aggravated murder. He pleaded guilty to additional charges of disarming a peace officer, aggravated escape, aggravated robbery and possession of a firearm by a restricted person.
The plea deal spared Allgier a trial and the death penalty if convicted.
Third District Judge Paul Maughan opened the sentencing hearing to family members of Anderson, a 22-year employee of the Utah Department of Corrections. Anderson, 60, was survived by a wife, five adult children and 18 grandchildren.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that a daughter of Anderson's said it was "impossible to replace a man like my father."
The chase ended after Allgier got a flat tire and ran into an Arby's restaurant, where Eric Fullerton, 59, had just ordered a ham-and-cheese croissant and orange juice for breakfast.
Fullerton "went into action," grabbing the much larger Allgier by an arm and forcing him to drop the gun. Allgier punched Fullerton and then slashed his throat with a knife before finally surrendering to police.
"I didn't feel pain," Fullerton said at a 2010 court hearing. "I did feel the coldness of the blade, and I heard the sound."
In court Wednesday, prosecutors called Fullerton a hero.
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