Accused carjacker, shooter pleads guilty and mentally ill

Jun 6 2011 - 10:54pm

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Henry Sosa
Henry Sosa

OGDEN -- A man accused of shooting at two motorists, then carjacking a third, has pleaded guilty and mentally ill to charges from his spree just before Christmas.

After Henry Sosa was arrested for his Dec. 11 activities, he made bizarre statements to police and, eventually, to psychological examiners, officials said.

The 29-year-old was having paranoid delusions that his victims were people posing as members of his family, "imposters," said Deputy Weber County Attorney Branden Miles.

"He felt they were taking over the identities of his family," he said. "I'm not sure what the mechanism was, but the victims were part of that conspiracy."

Sosa approached a man in Washington Terrace at gunpoint, demanding he turn over his vehicle. The man refused, offering Sosa a ride instead, and Sosa relented. The man dropped him off in Ogden without incident at 29th Street and Adams Avenue.

Less than two hours before that incident, Sosa drove up alongside two women in a vehicle on U.S. 89 in South Ogden near 1050 East, shouting something and firing three shots at the car. One bullet grazed the driver's chin. She was treated at a local hospital and released.

The guilty and mentally ill plea is rarely used, and differs from a not guilty by reason of insanity, or NGI plea, also rare, in that prison still results.

Miles said he first suggested to Sosa's public defender that the guilty and mentally ill plea might fit Sosa's case. The plea negotiation was finalized June 2 before 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon. He set a July 14 sentencing date and a June 30 hearing to review new psychological evaluations of Sosa.

Sosa was found competent to stand trial earlier this year after less-involved psychological probes found him able to assist in his own defense and understand the proceedings against him. The new examinations will determine if he remains mentally ill despite treatment since his arrest and close monitoring of his medications, Miles said. Sosa's public defender, Haylee Mills, was not immediately available and phone messages were not returned.

Sosa was hit with a long list of charges, including two counts of attempted murder, aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony drug count, evading and two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person.

Sosa is also charged in the Dec. 11 incident with two counts of failure to abate, a misdemeanor offense, for violation of Ogden's injunction against members of the Trece street gang. Sosa is believed to be a Trece gang member, and the injunction bans Treces from any proximity to guns, among other restrictions that include public association with fellow gang members and an 11 p.m. curfew.

"We don't know if that had any effect or bearing on his mental state," Miles said of Sosa's gang affiliation.

He called both the guilty and mentally ill plea and the NGI "exceedingly rare," having used each one only one other time in his eight years in the county attorney's office.

If Sosa is found to be mentally ill at the June 30 hearing, he will be ordered committed to the state mental hospital for treatment. Doctors there would decide when his condition improves enough to allow him to complete his likely prison terms.

The attempted murder charges are first-degree felonies carrying a five-years-to-life prison term.

The NGI plea precludes prison but triggers a civil commitment process that could send a defendant to the state mental hospital.

"The primary difference with the guilty and mentally ill plea is that he admits guilt," Miles said. He's been held in Weber County Jail in lieu of $107,000 bail. Sosa went to prison in 2003 on an aggravated robbery charge and again in 2007 for assault and drug possession.

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