Updated: May 3, 2012 at 12:00 am
A Calhan sod farmer who was convicted in March in an attack on an El Paso County sheriff's deputy was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison, the minimum he faced.
Calling 55-year-old David Dean Goss a “pillar of the community” during his emotional sentencing hearing, Judge William Bain said his sentence was meant to send two messages – that Goss should learn a lesson and that “if you get in a fight with a cop you’re going to go to prison.”
Goss had been convicted by a jury of six counts related to him trying to grab Deputy Jeff Schulz's service pistol during a June 16 encounter in Goss' driveway in El Paso County. Goss was shot in the abdomen during the struggle and has recovered.
He faced up to 12 years in prison for the conviction.
A tearful Schulz said during the sentencing hearing that he suffers from nerve damage that “will never heal” after the encounter, making it impossible for him to go jogging, ride horses or even pick up his son. He said the encounter also still causes him mental and emotional stress.
“You caused me more pain that you can imagine,” Schulz said to Goss. “I have no pity for what will happen to you. I can’t forgive you even though I know that I should.”
Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Goss to eight years.
Goss declined to speak at the hearing but several family members and friends spoke on his behalf, calling him a hard worker, a generous man and a good husband and father.
During the trial, Goss said that there had not been a fight with deputies and his lawyers argued that Schulz had concocted the scenario to justify the shooting. During his sentencing, Goss’ family and friends stood by his side of the story.
“I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now,” said his wife Audra Goss, her voice almost indistinguishable behind her tears. “But I have to accept it because this is our life now. I just want him home.”
Doug Schanel, a life-long friend of Goss, vowed during the hearing that he was going to keep investigating what happened.
“I don’t believe after knowing him his entire life that he would do this.”
As he handed down his sentence, Judge Bain said the confrontation should not have happened at all and it was Goss’ distrust of deputies that escalated the situation. He said Goss’ sentence had to be a statement that showed his actions weren’t acceptable and he felt that sending him to prison for any time made that statement.
“Because of the choices you made, an enormous number of people have been impacted,” Bain said. “Your wife has to take care of the farm by herself and you’ve now got two communities that, at least today, are inherently distrustful of each other.”