ODESSA, Texas -- Despite his pleas during testimony, the jury did not agree with Wesley Dale Knight's contention that he accidentally pulled the trigger on a gun aimed at a police officer June 8, 2010.
The jury convicted Knight in about an hour on one count of attempted capital murder of a peace officer, one count of aggravated assault and one count of felon in possession of a firearm, to which he already pleaded guilty.
He was sentenced to 99 years each for attempted capital murder of a peace officer and aggravated assault and 20 years for felon in possession of a firearm. He was also fined $20,000.
He was accused of shooting at Odessa police officers Kolby Kea and Stephen Merrill during a drug search after he was kicked out of a motel because of suspicious activity at his room.
Knight took the stand Thursday afternoon and admitted to many past bad acts, including misdemeanor and felony convictions involving theft and drug charges.
He also said he knew he was going to jail and had no reason to shoot at officers, despite admitting he made a mistake in not telling officers of the gun in the first place.
"All of it happened so fast; in my mind it was a jumbled mess. I reached in my waistband and took my gun out, holster and all," Knight said. "I had no explanation at the time and I still don't know today why I did those things.
"What wasn't going through my mind was to kill an officer or to harm anyone in any way."
Prosecutor Brooke Hendricks pointed out during her cross-examination and in closing arguments of the punishment phase his troubled past, including dealing methamphetamine the day of the incident.
She confirmed with Knight that he did not put the gun in any of his bags when he was told to leave the motel, and instead kept it in his front waistband.
Throughout the trial, defense attorney John Cliff and Knight asserted that Knight fired the gun accidentally and wasn't aiming at the police officers when the gun fired.
His bags were being searched for drugs by a canine with OPD a few minutes before the confrontation.
When Merrill and Kea approached Knight to search him for a key to one of the bags, Knight backed up and pulled the gun from his waistband.
Kea ran the other way, in footage shown in court, while Merrill grabbed Knight and forced him to the ground. The shot was fired sometime between when Merrill made contact with Knight and when they hit the ground.
Copyright 2011 - Odessa American, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune News Service