A man convicted of attempted murder for shooting a deputy sheriff serving a "no-knock" search warrant was denied parole Wednesday and told it would be 20 years before his case would be heard again.
Karl "Willy" Winsness, 38, had failed to convince a jury last year that he nearly killed a Salt Lake County deputy in self-defense in January 1988 and was sentenced to five years to life in prison.Members of the Utah State Board of Pardons didn't buy his story either, scheduling his next parole hearing for January 2007 and ignoring suggested state guidelines that he be released after 12 years.
Board member Gary Webster dismissed Winsness' claim that the deputies did not announce themselves as they forced their way into his home. Webster said the jury obviously didn't believe him either.
The so-called "no knock" search warrant allows law enforcement authorities to enter a residence without warning. In court, a sheriff's sergeant testified "sheriff's office" was yelled as Winsness' door was kicked open.
Winsness' defense, at the trial and at the board hearing, was that he fired his gun to stop what he believed was an intruder intent on stealing some $1,400 in cash he said he was setting aside toward back house payments.
He admitted to having used heroin that day and said he was spooked by a telephone call earlier in the evening from a woman who hung up when he asked her to identify herself.
"The phone call wasn't right . . . that's what triggered this whole thing," Winsness told the board. He acknowledged that as an ex-felon, he should not have been armed with a gun when the authorities arrived.
The first two shots he fired went over the head of the deputy sheriff, Winsness said. "I was retreating. I was backing up, I see a man coming through my door with a gun in his hand . . . that's when the officer got shot."
Webster said Winsness showed a "wanton" disregard by shooting before he knew who was breaking into his home. "That's very, very scary to members of this board," Webster said.
Winsness had said during the board hearing that he was not using drugs because they were "not around right now."