By KEITH KINNAIRD
SANDPOINT — A Bonner County man who engaged in a drug-fueled interstate crime spree that culminated with him opening fire on a sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday.
Steven Michael Gervasi will have to serve at least 12 years of the sentence before he can be considered for parole, according to the terms of a binding plea agreement that resulted from civil mediation in the case.
Gervasi, 27, was charged in Idaho with burglary, grand theft, aggravated assault, burglary, first-degree arson, unlawful possession of a firearm and robbery. He was charged in Washington state with attempted murder of a law officer, methamphetamine possession and unlawful weapon possession.
The litany of charges date back to May 2016, when Gervasi was of accused of burglarizing a relative’s home, robbing and shooting at a woman outside of a Spirit Valley residence that he burned down. The crime spree ended with Gervasi allegedly opening fire on Bonner Deputy Alex Hughes after he pursued him into Pend Oreille County. Hughes narrowly missed being struck by the incoming rounds, according to court documents.
Gervasi escaped following the shooting, but was arrested without incident several days later.
As his cases in both states neared trial, Gervasi agreed to enter into civil mediation that sought an omnibus resolution to the series of criminal charges. The result was a plea agreement which winnowed down the total number of criminal charges to five — aggravated assault on a law officer, burglary, grand theft, unlawful firearm possession and meth possession.
The amended aggravated assault charge alleged that Gervasi acted as a principal or aided and abetted Jessica Brown, who was also in the vehicle during the pursuit.
Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said he was grateful for the extensive forensic and investigative work done by authorities in Pend Oreille County, Washington, which included fingerprinting and DNA analyses which linked Gervasi to the suspect vehicle.
Marshall said the case demonstrates the senseless violence that can erupt when a person is on a prolonged drug binge and added that the sentence serves as a deterrent.
“It does send a strong message that this will not be tolerated,” said Marshall.
Gervasi’s counsel, Doug Phelps, conceded that the physical evidence against his client was strong, but there were weaknesses in the witness statements that could have been exploited at trial.
However, Phelps said the defense agreed to resolve the case in order to provide certainty regarding sentencing.
“If anything this case is a sad statement of the effects of methamphetamine and the lives ruined by methamphetamine,” said Phelps.
Gervasi declined to address the court before the sentence was imposed.
First District Judge Barbara Buchanan, who has been a jurist for nearly 25 years, has seen Gervasi graduate from juvenile to adult crimes over the years. She said that Gervasi became addicted to meth at a very young age, although it in no way excused his conduct.
“People have to take responsibility,” Buchanan said.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.