Man gets life in prison for tribal officer death

Posted at 4:20 PM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-04 19:09:28-05

A man was sentenced to life in prison Monday for his conviction in the shooting death of a tribal police officer during a late-night traffic stop on the outskirts of Phoenix.

Elijah Loren Arthur received the sentence in the May 2014 killing of Officer Jair Cabrera of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community at a gas station.

Arthur fired the shots that killed the officer, while another man has acknowledged driving the vehicle and providing the rifle used in the attack. The other man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Prosecutors sought the mandatory life sentence for Arthur's first-degree murder conviction. Defense attorneys asked for leniency.

Authorities say Arthur and another member of the East Side Bloods gang who was a passenger in the car when it was pulled over had a conversation earlier that night about a gang associate who was killed during an encounter with a tribal officer.

They said Arthur made a profane comment about officers during that conversation.

Defense attorneys acknowledged that their client is a former member of the gang and had killed the officer, but they say he didn't act with cold calculation, as alleged by prosecutors.

They also said Arthur's ability to act reasonably and control his emotions was diminished on the night of the shooting because he was under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine.