CONVICTED: Waters-Rice sentenced to 15 years for three felonies following 2022 car chase
By Brandon Hurley
A Jefferson resident has been sentenced to 15 years in prison following three felony convictions handed down Feb. 28, while an attempted murder charge and other crimes were dismissed.
A string of criminal charges were brought on Zachary Waters-Rice, 26, following a car chase in May of 2022. Waters-Rice eventually pleaded guilty to three felonies and a misdemeanor - possession of a short-barreled riffle or shotgun, intimidation with a dangerous weapon, third degree burglary and eluding last month.
The 15 year sentence - a total of three, five year sentences for each felony - were obtained due to a number of factors, including Waters-Rice’s criminal history.
“The court imposes this sentence because it provides for the defendant’s rehabilitation and the protection of the community,” court documents said. “In determining the sentence, the court has considered the sentencing recommendations of the parties and the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense.”
GUN FIRE AND A POLICE CHASE
The Jefferson resident first caught the attention of local dispatchers on May 6 after witnesses reported seeing the suspect reaching into a backpack while on a bicycle and allegedly firing a gun at a moving car in the 700 block of N. Cedar Street around 8:30 p.m. May 16.
An owner of a home on Cedar Street told officers Waters-Rice had been yelling and swearing at him from the street. The resident said he heard an object hit the east side of his house and assumed Waters-Rice had thrown something, court documents say. The owner of the trailer court at 701 N. Cedar Street said they saw Waters-Rice enter the trailer court on a bike before departing the housing complex through another exit. The property owner also said they saw Waters-Rice travel down W. McKinley Street, pull out a gun from his bag and begin loading it.
Two unnamed passengers of a vehicle in that same area said they heard “something ricochet” off their vehicle when the alleged gun shot had occurred. Criminal reports say the passengers believe Waters-Rice fired directly at them and not in the air simply as a scare tactic.
The gun shot initiated a city-wide search for Waters-Rice that lasted nearly 12 hours. Waters-Rice later allegedly stole a vehicle, leading officers on a brief pursuit before losing sight of him. The 25-year old was later seen visiting a residence in the 500 block of South Chestnut Street, allegedly pointing a gun at a resident.
At 6:31 a.m. on May 17, 10 hours after Waters-Rice was first reported to law enforcement, the officer who conducted the original pursuit noticed the stolen vehicle was back at the owner’s place of residence on Mulberry Street. A number of officers, deputies, and an Iowa State Trooper flanked the residence, locating Waters-Rice from a cell phone ping which had placed him at the residence.
Law enforcement cleared adjacent buildings while they approached the garage. They located Waters-Rice inside and placed him in custody at 6:59 a.m. They also found four, loaded firearms in the stolen vehicle.
THE CHARGES AND SENTENCING
Waters-Rice was initially charged with a multitude of crimes, including; attempted murder (A Class B Felony), going armed with intent, use of a dangerous weapon in the commission of a crime, dominion control of a firearm by domestic abuser, third degree burglary, operation without owner’s consent, assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, eluding, manner of conveyance of a loaded gun, possession of a controlled substance - marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia along with two counts of probation violation.
The charges of attempted murder, going armed with intent, use of a dangerous weapon during commission of a crime, operation of a vehicle without the owner’s consent, possession of methamphetamine and assault while displaying a weapon were all eventually dismissed by the court.
Waters-Rice did plead guilty to possession of a short-barreled riffle or shotgun, intimidation with a dangerous weapon, third degree burglary and eluding on Feb. 15 while his sentencing was handed down Feb. 27.
The judge determined Waters-Rice will be eligible for early release if a number of requirements are met.
“The court publicly announced and/or hereby publicly announces that Defendant’s term of incarceration may be reduced from the maximum sentence because of statutory earned time, work credits, and program credits and that Defendant may be eligible for parole before the sentence is discharged,” court documents said.
Waters-Rice has been charged – and convicted – for a number of violent crimes in the past.
In 2014, Waters-Rice was found guilty of third degree burglary and fourth degree criminal mischief after stealing a chainsaw and battery charger from a padlocked garage in Jefferson in April of 2016. A one-year jail sentence was suspended.
Waters-Rice was also found guilty of domestic abuse assault and assault after allegedly choking his mom and also punching his brother in the face in 2017 in Paton. Court documents say Waters-Rice visibly punched his brother again after law enforcement arrived, striking his sibling twice in the face before the officer eventually threatened to taze Waters-Rice. He proceeded to threaten the officer after being handcuffed.
The criminal complaint was filed after Waters-Rice allegedly kicked in the garage door at his mother’s home in Paton. Waters-Rice threatened the officer in the patrol car on the way to the Greene County jail, saying he would punch the officer and that he would go to his home and steal from him. He was found guilty of both charges of assault and issued a two year suspended prison sentence. His three year prison sentence was suspended on Nov. 30, 2017 though he did serve 138 days in jail during court proceedings.
Waters-Rice also pled guilty to assault while a child endangerment charge was dropped stemming from an incident in November of 2020 in Humboldt. Waters-Rice allegedly struck his then girlfriend and choked her. He was not sentenced to prison despite the guilty plea.
Waters-Rice was also found guilty of disorderly conduct in October 2021 in Humboldt County after allegedly initiating a fight and throwing a beer can against a garage wall.
Most recently Waters-Rice was charged and convicted for domestic abuse assault for an alleged incident in March of 2022. The defendant claims Waters-Rice allegedly choked their person and jammed or attempted to “break” their finger. Criminal reports say both the defendant and Waters-Rice were homeless at the time and the two would “hop” around from house to house. Waters-Rice was residing in a home along Lincoln Way at the time of the alleged altercation. All but two days of Waters-Rice’s 90-day prison sentence were suspended.