Jury delivers split verdict in trial of attempted murder of police officer
WELD COUNTY — A Weld County jury returned a split verdict Friday in the attempted first-degree murder trial of Eaton resident John Lockhart.
Lockhart was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, illegal discharge of a firearm and vehicular eluding following two separate shooting incidents during the early morning hours of June 11, 2017 in Greeley and Milliken. One of those two victims was an on-duty Milliken police officer.
After almost two full days of deliberations, the jury convicted Lockhart on the vehicular eluding charge, which is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in prison. The jury found Lockhart not guilty of attempted first-degree murder and illegal discharge of a firearm.
As for count 3, attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer, the foreman said the jury was deadlocked. Weld District Court Judge Thomas Quammen declared a mistrial on that charge.
The Weld District Attorney’s Office has the option to retry Lockhart on the attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer charge, which appears to be the plan as Weld Chief Deputy District Attorney Tony Perea requested a status conference to discuss the case’s next steps. The hearing takes place at 4:30 p.m. April 8.
Sentencing on the vehicular eluding conviction likely will be delayed until after Lockhart is retried.
Shortly after midnight June 11, 2017, Lockhart was involved in a road rage incident with Faustino Garcia while driving north on 8th Avenue through Greeley. Garcia, who took the stand this week, admitted to having a hazy recollection of the incident, as he had been drinking heavily at the White Horse Bar in Garden City.
Lockhart’s version of the event included Garcia barreling down in his Ford SUV on Lockhart and his passenger, Amber Eaton, who were riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Lockhart told police he opened fire on Garcia, shooting seven rounds in total, but only after his Harley had been rear-ended or sideswiped two or three times.
But investigators say Lockhart stopped during the altercation to un-holster his semi-automatic pistol. Police say Lockhart then pulled in behind Garcia and fired on him, breaking out the rear window. Neither Garcia nor Lockhart were injured during the incident.
About an hour later, Milliken officer Katherine Lines encountered Lockhart and Eaton as they sped into town. Lines attempted to pull over Lockhart, but he accelerated to over 100 mph.
During the chase, Lockhart fired three rounds at Lines. One bullet entered her cruiser near the driver’s side headlight. She also was uninjured.
Lockhart has been referred to numerous times since his arrest as a member of the Hells Angels. Greeley police Gang Unit Det. Mike Prill clarified on Friday Lockhart was a prospect with ambitions of joining the motorcycle gang at the time of the shootings.
Lockhart had painted his house black and red, the colors of the Hells Angels gang, Prill said. He wore a sleeveless jean jacket, or cut, with a small white patch on the right side, which is a symbol of the Nomads Chapter based in LaSalle, according to court records.
There is no evidence Lockhart was acting on behalf of the gang at the time of the 2017 shootings, Prill said.