SIOUX CITY | The man found guilty of shooting at a Woodbury County Sheriff's Deputy was sentenced to 25 years for attempted murder Friday afternoon.   

Woodbury County District Court Judge John Ackerman said Melvin Spencer has to serve a mandatory 70 percent of the sentence, or about 17 1/2 years, before he is eligible for parole under Iowa law. 

"It's what the state code is and he got the sentence he deserved," County Sheriff Dave Drew said after the hearing.    

Spencer, 25, of Sioux City, declined his opportunity to address the court before the sentence was read in the courtroom filled with uniformed law enforcement officers. He also chose to appeal the sentence, with that hearing scheduled for a later date.  

Spencer's family and friends wept quietly and sent farewells while he was escorted out of the courtroom. Spencer acknowledged their greetings with a smile. 

After deliberating for nearly eight hours, a jury in August found Spencer guilty of attempted murder.

Evidence during two days of testimony showed that Spencer fired 16 shots at Deputy Mike Lenz at the end of a Feb. 26 vehicle pursuit south of Sioux City. Lenz was not injured, but at least five rounds struck his patrol vehicle.

The chase began when another deputy attempted to stop a vehicle driven by Brittney Hood on 260th Street near Port Neal Road for traffic violations. Rather than pull over, Hood sped away before stopping the vehicle, exiting and fleeing on foot before she was apprehended.

Originally a passenger in the vehicle, Spencer took the wheel and sped off. He was turning onto 225th Street when Lenz joined the chase and followed Spencer north onto Allison Avenue, where the vehicle became stuck in a ditch at a dead end. Spencer then leaned out the driver's side window and fired at Lenz, who returned fire. Spencer fled on foot while Lenz attended to a passenger in Spencer's vehicle who had been struck by gunfire and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Spencer was arrested three hours later after officers from several local and state law enforcement agencies had joined in the manhunt.

Hood, 27, of Sioux City, pleaded guilty in April to misdemeanor charges of eluding and interference with official acts and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

"The key is to get people who are dangerous to society and deputies and officers off the street," Drew said. "I think that is the process that we went through and I think the courts found a just sentence so I think justice has been served."

Lenz was unavailable for comment after Friday's sentencing. 

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Crime and general assignment reporter

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