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Crime & Courts

Wasilla man who killed trooper K-9 sentenced to 10 years in federal prison

A 27-year-old man convicted of the first killing of an Alaska State Troopers dog in the line of duty was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Anchorage.

Almando Abarca in court on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Almando Abarca had already been convicted of felony burglary charges when he shot at a trooper and police officer during a pursuit near Palmer in September 2016. Abarca also shot and killed Helo, a K-9 involved in the chase.

The officers, who weren't injured, shot at and wounded Abarca. Helo died from his injuries.

A federal grand jury indicted Abarca in October 2016 for being a felon in possession of a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun during the incident. He entered a guilty plea a year later, according to a release from the U.S. attorney's office.

Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess on Wednesday sentenced him to 10 years in federal prison — the statutory maximum though federal sentencing guidelines called for a much higher sentence, the release said. During sentencing, Burgess told Abarca he was "lucky to be alive and lucky that the court was limited as to the sentence which it could impose."

A Palmer jury convicted Abarca in early February on state charges of attempted murder, assault and felony destruction of a police dog. His sentencing is scheduled for late May in that case.

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