CEDAR CITY — A 37-year-old Ohio woman who was arrested following a high-speed chase in January and who subsequently tried to take the arresting trooper’s gun away from him, was sentenced earlier this week to at least five years in prison.
Korie Jo Wolfe had pleaded guilty to one count of disarming a police officer, a first-degree felony, and one count of failure to stop at command of police, a third-degree felony.
As previously reported in Cedar City News, Wolfe was driving a Honda Accord on southbound Interstate 15 on the morning of Jan. 14 when a Utah Highway Patrol trooper attempted to pull her over for speeding. She then led police on a chase that reportedly reached speeds of more than 110 mph before ending when pursuing troopers were able to execute an intervention maneuver that stopped the vehicle by sending it into the median near mile marker 86 in northern Iron County.
Wolfe and her passenger, James Edward Snow, 39, were booked later that evening into Iron County Jail on suspicion of multiple charges.
Although both initially pleaded not guilty, they later entered guilty pleas on two felony counts apiece, with their remaining misdemeanor counts being dismissed as part of the respective plea agreements.
The most serious charge for both Wolfe and Snow stemmed from the attempted disarming incident that happened at the UHP offices in Cedar City later that same afternoon on Jan. 14, several hours after the car chase.
UHP Trooper Preston Holgreen was typing up a report on his computer when Wolfe, who was handcuffed in front, came up behind Holgreen and attempted to grab the trooper’s service weapon from its holster on his belt.
The ensuing scuffle, which can be seen and heard in the video clip above, includes Snow saying, “Get it!” presumably telling Wolfe to grab the gun. Holgreen is heard yelling orders for both Snow and Wolfe to get on the ground, emphatically stating, “I will shoot you!” and calling for backup. Shortly thereafter, with the assistance of other troopers that came into the room, Holgreen was able to securely restrain both suspects.
“This terrifying situation underscores the dangerous situations the brave men and women in law enforcement potentially encounter each day when they go to work,” Iron County Attorney Chad Dotson said this week in a written statement, adding, “Wolfe’s actions placed our community and members of law enforcement in grave danger.”
During Wolfe’s sentencing hearing Monday, 5th District Judge Matthew L. Bell ordered her to serve a five-year minimum sentence on the felony disarming of an officer charge and another 0-5 years for the other count, with the two terms to be served consecutively.
Earlier in the hearing, a tearful Wolfe read aloud a statement of apology as she asked the judge for leniency.
“I’d like to take the time to apologize for any disrespect. I am truly sorry,” Wolfe said. “I never intended to hurt anyone. Not being in my right mindset, I made an awful decision. I understand this and I feel shame and regretful for my actions. I’m an addict.”
Wolfe told the court she has a 15-year-old daughter and an “amazing support system” back in Ohio, along with a promise of gainful employment.
“I have used this time to clear my mind, think about my actions and start planning for my return,” she said. “I am excited to return home to my daughter and my family … I am hopeful for forgiveness.”
“I want to clear out all the toxic people in my life, begin and start fresh,” she said.
Defense attorney Troy Sundquist had also asked the judge to consider giving Wolfe probation.
“I just don’t want to see this relatively young person have her life completely derailed and destroyed over an isolated mistake,” Sundquist said, noting that Wolfe did not have any prior felony convictions on her record.
Additional character witnesses had also vouched for Wolfe, both in writing and in brief verbal comments made during the online court session.
However, prosecuting attorney Shane Klenk argued against leniency, saying, “Ultimately, Wolfe is dangerous. She put the life of a Utah Highway Patrol trooper in serious jeopardy, and in so doing, she made herself Utah’s problem and she deserves to go to prison.”
Klenk said Wolfe’s actions in the UHP office went far beyond a simple lapse in judgement on her part.
“It is not unreasonable to infer, and indeed, Miss Wolfe admits, that the only reason she would try to take Trooper Holgreen’s weapon was to attempt to escape, and in the state’s view, shoot her way out of the Utah Highway Patrol office,” Klenk said.
“Even after Trooper Holgreen gave her numerous commands to get down and numerous warnings that he would shoot her if she did not desist, she continued to approach Trooper Holgreen while her co-defendant approached him from the rear,” Klenk added. “Trooper Holgreen had to strike the defendants multiple times, and Miss Wolfe only submitted to commands when a second trooper came into the room with his service weapon drawn.”
Klenk then read a statement from the pre-sentencing investigation, which said:
It is very concerning the defendant would attempt to minimize this life-threatening act by stating she didn’t think anyone would have been hurt if she would have taken the trooper’s firearm and used it to facilitate an escape. It is also a complete disregard for what she and her co-defendant put Trooper Holgreen through, as he felt he had to fight for his life as they attacked him.
Right before he pronounced the sentence, Bell mentioned that Holgreen had likely helped save Wolfe’s life following the initial traffic stop on I-15.
“She very well may have had her life saved by the trooper’s actions, administering Narcan and summoning an ambulance and making sure she was treated after she was released from the hospital and interviewed,” Bell said.
Then, addressing Wolfe directly, Bell added, “Your actions in this case are inexcusable. You present a serious threat to the community and law enforcement.”
“It’s telling that you fought with this trooper over his gun, after he very likely saved your life or at least made treating your medical condition a priority,” Bell added. “You absolutely deserve the sentence that I’m about to hand down.”
Snow, meanwhile, has already pleaded guilty to the same two charges that Wolfe did. He remains incarcerated in Iron County Jail. His sentencing has been scheduled for May 17, also before Judge Bell.
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