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Life Sentence Given in Murder of Wash. State Sheriff's Deputy

WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) - A judge on Thursday sentenced a 22-year-old man to life in prison without parole for the shooting death of a Chelan County sheriff's deputy last year.

A jury last week convicted Jose Sanchez Guillen of Manson of aggravated first-degree murder in the June 26, 2003, death of Saul Gallegos during a routine traffic stop.

Chelan County Superior Court Judge T.W. "Chip" Small formally imposed the sentence mandated by state law.

Prosecutors elected not to seek the death penalty - the other possible sentence for aggravated murder - saying Guillen's youth and lack of criminal record made it unlikely that a death sentence would stand up on appeal.

Investigators believed Gallegos, 35, was shot with his own service weapon after the deputy stopped Guillen for investigation of driving with a suspended license.

Defense lawyers had argued the shooting was an accident as the two men struggled. Guillen did not testify during the trial.

Gallegos joined the Chelan police force in 1996 and became a U.S. citizen. He took a job with the sheriff's office in 2002.

The native of Mexico left a wife and four sons.

Last year, Guillen's mother was sentenced to one year in jail for helping her son initially evade capture. Authorities searched for Guillen up and down the West Coast for three days before arresting him near Connell, about 150 miles southeast of the murder scene.

Maria Belen Guillen, 40, entered an Alford plea in Superior Court to a charge of rendering criminal assistance in the slaying of Gallegos.

By entering the plea, she maintained her innocence but acknowledged the state likely had enough evidence to convict her.

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