After a three-week trial and more than two days of deliberation, a Ventura County jury found John Atkinson guilty Thursday of five felony offenses including attempted murder of a police officer.
Atkinson, 34, is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 5 on the charges, which include assault on a peace officer, second-degree robbery and two misdemeanor offenses of abuse on an elder. Five enhancements, including attempted murder of a peace officer and use of a firearm will likely add time to Atkinson’s sentence.
“It’s going to be a long prison sentence, and it may be his whole life,” said Richard Simon, senior deputy district attorney. “It’s unfortunate because of his history with mental illness, but he is dangerous and that’s what’s important — to protect society.”
With the enhancements added to his charges, Simon added, Atkinson faces about 25 years to life in prison.
Atkinson was accused of attempting to murder Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputy Traci Salmon during a Dec. 10, 2010 altercation. The incident occurred when Salmon was sent to Atkinson’s parents’ home, in the 4900 block of Casitas Pass Road in Ojai, in response to a 911 hang-up.
When Salmon approached the front door, Atkinson became violent and attempted to take her stun gun, pistol and radio, according to testimony. During the struggle, Atkinson reportedly used Salmon’s stun gun on her and beat her with her radio.
Salmon was able to shoot him in the leg with her pistol before it jammed. Atkinson wrestled the weapon from her and attempted to fire a shot at her head, but the bullet did not fire.
“She is happy and relieved,” Simon said. “She knows he put the gun to her head and pulled the trigger. She knows she heard the click and is very grateful the jury found it to be the case, too.”
Atkinson will remain in custody of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department until his sentencing.