Crime

Modesto man seemed to be driving directly at chasing police officers, prosecutors say

A 56-year-old Modesto man has been sentenced to nine years and four months in prison for trying to evade police capture twice in one month, including a high-speed Ceres chase in which he seemed to be driving directly at patrol cars, prosecutors say.

Michael Wells on June 25 pleaded no contest to evading arrest and forcibly resisting an executive officer in two criminal cases, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced this week in a news release.

On Aug. 5, 2017, Ceres police officers tried to pull over Wells for a traffic violation. Prosecutors said Wells sped away, reaching speeds more than 90 mph. They said he ran stop signs and red lights.

At one point, it appeared Wells was trying to drive directly at chasing police patrol cars, before swerving away at the last second, according to prosecutors.

A pursuing officer disabled the vehicle Wells was driving, prosecutors said, and the defendant ran away. They said Wells fought with officers when they caught up to him. Wells told police he didn’t stop, because he was afraid there was a warrant out for his arrest.

Wells posted bail and was released from jail. On Aug. 13, 2017, eight days after the Ceres police chase, Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies spotted Wells conducting what appeared to be a drug transaction, according to prosecutors.

Wells ran from the deputies. Prosecutors said Wells fought with the deputies, before they subdued him.

Wells told the deputy booking him at the jail “You don’t know who I am, you don’t know what I’m about. I’ll see you again,” according to prosecutors.

Wells’ criminal history includes residential burglaries over two decades, prosecutors said. He’s served multiple prison sentences for other convictions, including a 2006 felony evasion conviction.

Wells failed to appear in court multiple times, according to prosecutors. They say Wells had to be returned on one occasion from San Joaquin County, where he was in jail for a criminal case there.

Wells’ conviction was part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Misdemeanor counts of obstructing officers and driving without a valid license were dismissed. Deputy District Attorney Patrick Hogan prosecuted the case.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff sentenced Wells last month shortly after he pleaded no contest to the charges. On Friday, Wells was serving his sentence at San Quentin State Prison.

Rosalio Ahumada writes news stories about criminal court cases in Stanislaus County for The Modesto Bee, issues related to immigration and immigrant communities and breaking news related to crime and public safety. From time to time, he covers the Modesto City Council meetings. He has worked as a news reporter in the Northern San Joaquin Valley since 2004.
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