Calling him a "classic psychopath," Wayne County, New York Judge Daniel Barret sentenced former Sunray Police Department Chief Timothy Paul Dean to life in prison without parole Friday for his conviction in May on one count of first degree murder for the October, 22, 2018 shooting deaths of Joshua Niles and Amber Washburn in Sodus, New York, according to Georgie Silvarole of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, a journalist with whom the News-Press shares information. A Wayne County jury convicted Dean on May 24, 2019 after just four hours of deliberations of one count of first degree murder, two counts of second degree murder, one count of criminal conspiracy, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. In addition to life without parole, Barret sentenced Dean to two consecutive terms of 25 years to life for the second degree murder convictions, 10 years in prison plus five years post-release supervision for the two weapons convictions, and eight and one third to 25 years for the conspiracy conviction. "You will certainly die in prison," he told Dean, who did not speak and remained emotionless throughout the sentencing.
Prosecutors argued in his trial that Dean shot and killed the two victims: Niles, as part of a conspiracy with his codefendants in the case, and Washburn, Niles' girlfriend, because she happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Prosecutors said Dean shot Niles multiple times from close range and Washburn, who was in her car with her infant child, once in the head. The child, secured in a car seat, was not physically injured.
Dean did not testify at his trial, and his defense attorneys called no witnesses. The bulk of the evidence against him came from the testimony of his two co-defendants, Charlene Childers and Bron Bohlar, who accepted plea deals and testified at his his trial.
Childers, Dean's wife, admitted she and Dean began planning the murder of Niles, her former boyfriend with whom she had two children, in August 2018, shortly after Niles won custody of the children, who had been living with Dean and Childers. Dean had been arrested in May of that year and charged with injury to a child in an incident involving a child he had with his first wife. In the wake of that arrest, he resigned as police chief in Sunray. Childers acknowledged that the murder of Niles was committed as a way of getting her children returned to her. Initially charged with second degree murder, conspiracy, and illegal possession of a weapon, she was allowed to plead guilty to one count of first degree manslaughter and one count of criminal possession of a weapon. She was sentenced to 28 years in a New York State prison in June. As he imposed the sentence, Wayne County Court Judge Daniel Barret called the crime, "the most senseless and tragic murder I have ever seen."
Former Sunray Police Department Officer Bron Bohlar, the third of the three people charged, pleaded guilty to one count of second degree conspiracy in February. In June, he received a sentence of one to three years in a New York State prison. Prosecutors said Bohlar, Dean, and Childers met in the garage of the house Dean and Childers shared in Sunray to plan the murder. They said Bohlar rented the vehicle that Dean was to use to drive to New York to commit the crime. Bohlar said through his attorney at the time of his guilty plea that his renting of the car was "a considerate act for a friend who was down on his luck" and that he had been manipulated and deceived, though he said he would not offer excuses about having been manipulated and deceived. Testifying in Dean's trial in June, Bohlar acknowledged that he had known full well that the car he rented for Dean was to be used by Dean to drive to New York to murder Niles. Although Bohlar was a police officer in Sunray, he started work there after Dean had resigned as police chief. Joseph Flores, a Sunray police officer who took over as interim chief with the resignation of Dean, hired Bohlar in June, 2018. Flores was later arrested and charged with tampering with a government document, a crime unrelated to the Sodus, New York murders. At one point in the fall of 2018, the entire Sunray Police Department was incarcerated in the Moore County Jail.
The case against Dean took some strange twists and turns. His statements made to investigators from the FBI, Texas Rangers, and Wayne County Sheriff's Office after his arrest in Sunray, initially on another injury to a child charge, were ruled inadmissible, because investigators did not read him his Miranda rights and continued to question him after he requested an attorney. An investigator testifying in a hearing in New York said that Childers was living with a boyfriend in Lyons, New York when she was taken in for questioning -- just a short time after her husband, at her behest, had killed two people. Childers attended the memorial ceremonies for both victims. Dean appeared in court on the body camera footage of a Kansas deputy who investigated a car accident that Dean had on his trip to New York to kill Niles. Dean told the deputy that he was just "driving around." Bohlar testified that Dean asked him to go to New York with him to kill Niles. Bohlar said he told Dean he couldn't go, because he couldn't get off work, as a police officer.
Prosecutors had more evidence against Dean than just the statements of Childers and Bohlar. A mailman in Sodus testified that he recognized Dean as someone he saw in the neighborhood of the killings. Police found a ski mask containing Dean's DNA a short distance from the murder scene.
The sentencing of Dean appears to be the end of a case that generated considerable public attention both in Texas and New York for a time. Sunray was under an uncomfortable spotlight as members of New York media outlets tried to come up with information and figure out why police officers from Sunray were involved in a murder in Sodus, New York. People in Sodus wondered why the small town had attracted such violence, especially since these were not the only killings to take place in the recent past. Georgie Silvarole of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, said there was near panic in Sodus during the period between the murders and the arrest of the suspects, a time when people feared that there was a random killer on the loose.
In the time since the guilty pleas and conviction, Sunray officials have reestablished a functioning police department with a new chief and new officers. Media interest and public attention have waned. The case seems to be over, but Dean, Childers, and Bohlar will have at least one more moment of celebrity. According to Silvarole, who attended Dean's trial every day in person, a crew from the NBC true-crime show "Dateline" was on hand filming for a future broadcast. In the first days after the breaking of the case, many people joked, "wow, this could be on "Dateline." Apparently it will be.