Man who ambushed NHP sergeant sentenced to life in prison

Local News

John Dabritz

ELY, Nev. — A 67-year-old Nevada man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole for ambushing and killing a veteran highway patrol sergeant on a remote state highway in March 2020.

John Leonard Dabritz, a former resident of the small White Pine County mining town of Ruth, avoided a death penalty trial when he changed his plea in July to guilty but mentally ill in the death of Sgt. Ben Jenkins, a decorated highway patrol officer from Elko.

Dabritz was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder and held in custody at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City.

White Pine County District Judge Steve Dobrescu sentenced Dabritz.

White Pine County District Attorney James Beecher agreed to let Dabritz withdraw his earlier plea of not guilty by reason of insanity and avoid a trial to provide Jenkins’ family “with swift and final closure, without protracted appeals or requiring them to relive the horrific incident.”

Jenkins was killed in the early morning hours of March 27 while trying to help a stopped motorist on U.S. Highway 93 in White Pine County. That’s when 65-year-old John Dabritz opened fire on Jenkins, who was hit and killed. The motorist then stole Jenkin’s uniform and drove away in the sergeant’s patrol vehicle.

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