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Prosecutor charges former trooper, Green River mayor with second degree assault

By LYNNDA JOHNSON
Sun Advocate editor

The Carbon County Attorney's Office has charged a Utah Highway Patrol trooper present at the scene of a shooting incident on U.S. Highway 6 in March with second degree felony aggravated assault.

Filed June 28 in 7th District Court, the formal criminal complaint contends that the defendant, 32-year-old Edward J. Bentley, assaulted John Gourno III and seriously injured the 29-year-old victim at the culmination of an alleged robbery and high-speed chase incident on March 12.

Bentley's initial appearance in the second degree aggravated assault case is tentatively scheduled on July 25 before Judge Bruce K. Halliday, indicated the county attorney's office.

The state prosecutor based the formal felony level complaint on evidence collected by the Carbon County Sheriff's Office, the law enforcement agency conducting the initial and follow-up investigation into the shooting incident.

In January, Bentley assumed the mayor's position in Green River, according to the city recorder's office.

Last Friday, a spokesperson for the UHP indicated that Bentley no longer works for the state law enforcement agency. However, the former trooper has appealed the UHP's employment termination decision.

The March 12 incident originated with an armed robbery report from a hotel in Green River and climaxed when Bentley allegedly shot Gourno after law enforcement personnel stopped a Chevrolet Blazer occupied by the victim along with a second male subject, vehicle operator Auddie Barnes.

The Blazer matched an eyewitness' description of the get-away vehicle that reportedly fled the armed robbery scene.

The shooting occurred near milepost 258 following a high-speed chase starting in Green River and continuing on U.S. 6 when the 29-year-old driver of Blazer purportedly attempted to evade capture by pursuing patrol cars.

During an interview in March, Emery Sheriff Lamar Guymon indicated that Barnes reportedly stopped at the Comfort Inn in a green and gray Chevrolet Blazer.

The hotel clerk entered the building with Barnes, where the suspect purportedly brandished a weapon and demanded the money in the register.

The hotel clerk followed Barnes into the parking lot while calling 911 and provided the public safety dispatch center with descriptions of the male subject as well as the SUV.

Passenger Gourno reportedly never exited the Blazer at the hotel.

Responding to the 911 call, the dispatch center issued an attempt to locate on a vehicle matching the description.

The Blazer carrying the two robbery suspects, identified as Ohio residents, headed east from the hotel, turned west onto Interstate 70 and exited the freeway westbound on U.S. 6.

Approximately one mile from the interstate, UHP Trooper Greg Funk spotted the SUV and relayed the plates on the suspect vehicle to the dispatch center.

Dispatch ran the plates and determined the vehicle had been reported stolen from Indiana.

Due to the information regarding the Blazer's license plates, Funk attempted to initiate a traffic stop.

But Barnes purportedly failed to comply with the command and engaged the patrolman in a high speed chase.

Two additional UHP troopers and an Emery County deputy joined the pursuit.

During the chase, the suspects reportedly tossed the alleged armed robbery weapon from the speeding vehicle.

Emery County law enforcement later recovered the weapon, according to Guymon.

Law enforcement officials had started preparing to stop the vehicle with spike strips near Sunnyside Junction when the Blazer stopped.

Five UHP troopers, including Bentley, and two state corrections officers were on the scene with weapons drawn, confirmed Carbon County Sheriff James Cordova in March.

Barnes reportedly complied with an order to exit the vehicle and troopers cuffed the SUV driver before placing the robbery suspect in a patrol car.

After securing Barnes, the law enforcement representatives ordered Gourno to exit the vehicle. The passenger complied with the directive, but while Gourno was walking backwards toward officers - a distance of approximately 20 feet - Bentley reportedly shot the subject with an M-14 rifle.

Gourno's gunshot wound was treated at Castleview Hospital before the subject was transported by helicopter to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

Barnes was temporarily detained at the Carbon County Jail, but the armed robbery suspect was later booked into Emery's correctional facility.

Law enforcement officials investigating the March 12 incident indicated that Barnes and Gourno reportedly have extensive criminal histories.






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