Despite dodging an attempted murder charge last year, former California gubernatorial candidate Tye Glenn Champ Jr. was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Friday.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge Gary Hoff refused to forget Champ’s past crimes when considering new firearm charges. Champ, 49, of Tollhouse, was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm and of misdemeanor vandalism after being arrested in August 2014 for shooting a man in the stomach.
Champ contended he shot John Price III in self-defense after Price attacked him with a knife. A deadlocked jury resulted in attempted murder and assault charges being dropped. The jury also found Champ not guilty of shooting and killing Price’s horse despite allegations that he did.
Friday’s serious prison sentence is due to the “three-strikes” law, which increases prison sentences for repeat felons.
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Champ’s attorney argued that two felony convictions for assault with the intent to rape in 1993 should not be considered because of a conflict of interest with the Public Defender’s Office. The public defender represented both Champ and his victims in that case, which defense attorney Eric Schweitzer said was unconstitutional and voided those convictions.
However, prosecutor Dennis Verzosa pointed to previous court transcripts that showed Champ was aware of the conflict and agreed to proceed anyway.
Judge Hoff admitted that deciding if Champ qualified for the three-strikes law was “a very close call,” but worried about his extensive history of crimes. Champ also has a manslaughter conviction from 1998 and is a registered sex offender.
Schweitzer told the court that Champ is a reformed person and “has a desire to do good in the community,” but Kim Tedford, Price’s mother, disagreed.
“This man is a habitual repeat offender and deserves the maximum offense.”