- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) - A man convicted of killing a police officer in the Twin Cities last summer was sentenced Wednesday to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Brian Fitch Sr., 40, received the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder. He was found guilty Monday of fatally shooting Scott Patrick, a 47-year-old Mendota Heights officer who had stopped Fitch on July 30 in West St. Paul.

Fitch, with his hands bound, maintained his innocence before he was sentenced, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1zAOEUA ) reported. About 150 people, many in uniform, packed the Dakota County courtroom.

Fitch also was sentenced to more than 50 years in prison on attempted murder charges. He was convicted of firing at three St. Paul police officers who arrested him after a shootout later on the day Patrick was killed.

Patrick was the only Mendota Heights police officer ever to be killed in the line of duty. Thousands of people, including 4,000 members of law enforcement, attended his funeral in August.

His widow, Michelle Patrick, told the court that Scott was her high school sweetheart. She held up a bag of cards and letters sent to the family in the days after his death, some of them from people he had helped while serving on the force.

“He has changed more lives than we will ever know,” she said.

Patrick’s 18-year-old daughter, Erin, told the court that she saw her father five minutes before his death, when he visited her and her boyfriend during a lunch break.

“Before he drove away he said, ‘I’ll see you later sweetie,’” she said. “I’m still waiting.”

Fitch, in a rambling speech before he was sentenced, said he wasn’t at the crime scene and that “this whole case is trumped up beyond imagination.”

After the hearing, Fitch’s mother, Alice Fitch, told reporters “It’s a hard moment for both sides, you know, it’s very hard.”

___

Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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