MANTI—Brett Gilman Johnson, 52, the Wyoming man who, along with his girlfriend, shot at law enforcement officers near Milburn in October 2020, was sentenced last week to 1-15 years in state prison.
The case was reminiscent of the Bonnie and Clyde story. Johnson and his female companion, Jamie Lyn Cleghorn (also known as Jamie Wheeler), 41, were out of jail on bail in Wyoming, where they had been arrested for drug charges and breaking into 17 storage units, one of which contained 18 guns, which they allegedly stole. Cleghorn had a criminal history in Utah and Wyoming, mostly from passing bad checks.
After illegally crossing state lines (Idaho, Nevada, and Utah), they ended up living in a camp trailer parked on property owned by Cleghorn’s family in Milburn. The Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office learned of the couple’s presence in the county from a Wyoming bail bondsman, who had tracked them to the Milburn property. The Sheriff’s Office obtained warrants on the couple and sent officers to arrest them.
Upon arrival at the Milburn property, deputies announced themselves over a patrol vehicle speaker and commanded the fugitives to exit the trailer with their hands up. They refused.
As deputies approached the trailer door, they heard a voice from inside state that they had a firearm, and then heard a shot from inside. The bullet kicked up dust near an officer’s foot. A neighbor heard the shot and observed the couple fleeing east into the hills behind the property.
A hunt ensued that involved the Sheriff’s Office, local police departments, the Utah Highway Patrol, multiple helicopters and professional trackers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The search continued overnight. A Utah County SWAT team found the couple the next morning. As officers approached them, they reported hearing a loud click that sounded like a trigger mechanism. Cleghorn later stated that Johnson had put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. She believed it was his intent to kill her and then take his own life, but the gun misfired. It was later recovered at the scene.
Each of the fugitives later claimed that it was the other who fired at officers from the trailer. Johnson admitted that he had used methamphetamine prior to officers arriving. Cleghorn said that she too had use meth. She said that Johnson had dragged her up the mountain by the hair as they fled.
Officers later discovered counterfeit $100 bills in the trailer along with what they described as “fine printing paper” of a type commonly used to print checks. Cleghorn admitted to officers that she had a history of printing fraudulent checks on the printer found at the trailer.
Though she admitted the paper was hers, she denied knowing anything about the $100 bills.
At a hearing in 6th District Court last Wednesday June 1, Johnson pleaded guilty to onecount of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a third-degree felony, and one felony count of discharge of a firearm.
Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels argued for the maximum sentence, citing the fact that Johnson had shot at officers and had tried to kill his girlfriend.
Defense attorney, Rudy Bautista argued that imposition of the maximum sentence was a waste of Utah taxpayer money since upon his release, Johnson would immediately be extradited to Wyoming to face charges there.
Judge Mandy Larsen accepted Daniels’ argument and sentenced Johnson to the maximum, 1-15 years in prison, saying that regardless of what happens in Wyoming, the defendant would be sentenced under Utah law.
The case against Cleghorn was resolved in May of 2021 when she pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a third-degree felony; one count of illegal discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony; and one count of forgery, also a third-degree felony.
She is currently serving a 0-to-5-year term in the Utah State Prison.