EVERETT — During his three-decade criminal career, Tommy Gibler has had plenty of practice standing in front of judges and promising to make big changes.
Before he turned 45 in August, Gibler had amassed convictions for 17 felonies and 55 misdemeanors, mostly for drugs and property crimes.
It is a “breath-taking criminal history,” Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair said Monday before she sentenced Gibler for felonies 18, 19 and 20.
The defendant made a pitch for reduced punishment and court-ordered drug treatment.
The judge instead said public safety demanded she lock Gibler away for roughly five years.
“To me, the risks are just too great,” Fair said.
Gibler’s latest convictions came within months of his release from prison. Two stemmed from his actions during a risky chase through Lynnwood in September. He was at the wheel of a stolen car. He not only tried to outrun police, but also attempted to make them crash.
It was Gibler’s fourth conviction for attempted eluding, the judge noted.
The other fresh felony was for identity theft. Gibler stole his landlord’s wallet and used the credit cards to make more than $500 in purchases.
Not mentioned in court on Monday was Gibler’s most notorious criminal connection.
He is a former boyfriend of Shawna Forde of Everett, the convicted felon founder of a border-watch group that called itself Minutemen American Defense.
Forde now is on Arizona’s death row for a 2009 home invasion robbery that ended in the deaths of an Arizona man and his 9-year-old daughter.
Forde left Everett while police were investigating her potential involvement in the 2008 attempted murder of her ex-husband, who was divorcing her at the time. The shooting victim later said Gibler appeared to be the person who ambushed him in his home, leaving him near death from gunshot wounds. Everett detectives were unable to develop sufficient evidence for charges.
Through attorneys, Gibler repeatedly has denied involvement in the attack.
He came to court Monday with a well-composed speech. Gibler admitted responsibility for his latest crimes, expressed empathy for his victims and asked for another chance.
With the assistance of his attorney, Gibler urged the judge to give him a reduced prison term and court-ordered treatment as permitted under the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative program.
“My actions were despicable,” Gibler told the judge. They also were “made in the throes of addiction that has plagued me for many, many years.”
Prior to his arrest in the fall, Gibler was a daily intravenous user of methamphetamine and heroin, court papers show.
Fair said it was clear that Gibler has drug problems and needs help, but she couldn’t overlook his dangerous behaviors. She also noted that he’s failed before to make good on offers of help. In 2005, he was given court-ordered drug treatment and then refused to follow the rules, the judge noted.
“You’ve been doing this your whole life,” Fair said.
Gibler appeared stoic when the sentence was announced. It was the maximum punishment under state guidelines. It also matched the recommendation from state corrections officials.
“Thomas Gibler is a habitual criminal who shows no signs of changing his life in any positive or productive way,” state community corrections officer Susan Nikula wrote. “ … His lengthy criminal history is indicative of a person with a criminal mindset, and poor lifestyle choices.”
Scott North: 425-339-3431; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snorthnews.