Man sentenced following SR-18 pursuit that triggered manhunt by ground, air

Composite image of Washington County Sheriff's vehicle by Cody Blowers with overlay booking photo of Adam Wallin taken in Washington County, Utah, Sept. 22, 2019 | Booking photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A St. George man facing a number of charges after a pursuit on state Route 18 in September involving a vehicle fire, a ground and air search and an arrest, was sentenced earlier this month following his guilty plea.

L-R: dam Brett Wallin, 35, of St. George, and Bailey Gillies, 22, booking photos taken in Washington County Sept. 22, Sept. 15, 2019 | File photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Adam Brett Wallin, 35, appeared in 5th District Court Jan. 15 for a review hearing scheduled just days before the two-day trial was to begin Jan. 21. He appeared on multiple charges, including second-degree felony possession of a controlled substance and four misdemeanor charges, including obstruction of justice, evading police and possession of paraphernalia.

The trial was canceled, however, when Wallin entered a guilty plea on the felony possession and misdemeanor obstruction charge.

In exchange for the guilty plea, the state agreed to dismiss the two remaining misdemeanor charges under the terms of the plea agreement. The state also agreed to reduce the drug charge to a third-degree felony, a one-level 402 reduction from the original felony charge in the second-degree.

During the hearing, District Judge Michael G. Westfall sentenced Wallin to serve 365 days in jail with credit for time served, in lieu of the prison sentence of up to five years that was suspended in the case, and the defendant was ordered to pay $86 of the $9,500 fine, the remainder of which was dismissed.

The case stems from a Sept. 14 incident in which a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop a passenger car on SR-18 in Central for a suspect, later identified as Wallin, who was wanted on a no-bail warrant.

The driver, later identified as 22-year-old Bailey Gillies, pulled off the highway and stopped on the shoulder, but as soon as the deputy got out of his vehicle, the suspect’s car pulled back onto the highway and sped off heading south with the deputy in pursuit.

Oldsmobile Alero is severely damaged after it catches fire seconds after pursuit ends on state Route 18 with police near Dammeron Valley, Washington County, Utah, Sept. 14, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

At that point, a battalion of reinforcements was called in to assist, including helicopters, K-9 officers and multiple ground units while spike strips were deployed just ahead of the pursuit. Within seconds, three of the suspect’s tires were damaged when the car rolled over the strips at nearly 90 mph. The car continued at a high rate of speed on damaged tires for several more miles “with the driver’s side front tire basically destroyed,” Graham Hancock with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said at the scene..

About 100 yards before the Diamond Valley exit, the car swerved across the northbound lane and continued off the roadway where it crashed in a field of dry grass several yards from the roadway. The heat from the wheels caught the brush on fire.

Wallin then jumped out of the car and ran from police while Gillies remained near the car and was taken into custody by deputies as firefighters extinguished the blaze encircling the car.

Wallin was arrested six days later and booked on the no-bail warrant while the state filed charges related to the pursuit.

In addition to the jail sentence, Wallin was also placed on 36 months of bench probation and ordered to complete RSAT, a jail-based residential substance abuse treatment program for incarcerated inmates.

The program is designed to break the cycle of drugs and violence by reducing the demand for use by addressing the underlying causes through cognitive therapy and aftercare support to help the inmate in their reentry into the community.

Westfall also ordered a review hearing, which is scheduled to take place later this year.

Gillies did not fare as well during an October sentencing hearing on charges related to the pursuit. After pleading guilty to second-degree felony possession of a controlled substance, third-degree felony evading and a misdemeanor paraphernalia charge, she was ordered to serve 15 months in jail.

Both defendants remain in custody at Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility as they finish out their sentences.

Washington County Prosecutor Jerry Jaeger told St. George News Monday that Wallin was also sentenced to serve 365 days in jail on the probation violation, meaning he will spend two years in jail with credit for time served, but no good time.

Gillies, on the other hand, will be credited for time served but is also eligible for credit for good time, so she will spend less time in custody than her co-defendant.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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