Enfield sentenced to 35 years for shooting RGCSO Undersheriff

Toby Enfield

DEL NORTE — Toby Enfield appeared in Rio Grande District Court on Wednesday to be sentenced for the Nov. 7, 2022, shooting of Undersheriff Heath Hart with the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office. District Judge Michael Gonzales presided.

In a resolution reached by 12th Judicial District Attorney Anne Kelly and Enfield’s defense attorneys, Enfield pleaded guilty to criminal attempt to commit murder in the second degree, a class three felony, and assault in the first degree with a deadly weapon, also a class three felony but with a crime of violence sentence enhancer which increases the presumptive range of sentencing.

The agreement also included a stipulation that Enfield, 54, would be sentenced to 17 years in the Department of Corrections for the first charge and 18 years for the second to be served consecutively, totaling 35 years.

On Nov. 7, Undersheriff Hart was looking for Enfield who was suspected of stealing a truck when he spotted him driving the stolen vehicle. A chase ensued, Enfield came to a stop in a relatively unpopulated area, exited the truck, and was running away when he turned, aimed and fired multiple shots at the undersheriff, striking him under his left arm as he dove behind the dashboard of his vehicle.

Kelly described Enfield as someone “who has been involved in criminal activity for decades. "He claimed he was trying to commit “suicide by cop,” but his actions directly contradicted that, she said, including numerous times when Enfield didn’t stop when being pursued.

Kelly then zeroed in on the shooting, stating that Hart was just getting out of his vehicle when Enfield turned and fired multiple shots, aiming directly at Hart’s head.

“If Undersheriff Hart hadn’t ducked behind the dashboard with his left arm extended,” she said, demonstrating Hart’s actions, “he would have been killed.”

Enfield claims to have issues with mental health and addiction but she has never seen a document supporting that. “All those claims were from the defendant only.”

She concluded by saying the defendant has no place in society and has proven he’s a danger. She asked the court to consider the impact of the shooting on Hart, the Rio Grande Sheriff’s Office, the law enforcement community and community at large in the ruling.

Public defender Jamie Keairns said Enfield has never denied what he did and takes responsibility for his actions, pointing out that, in his criminal history, none involved assault. She described a man who was at a low point in his life but is taking multiple medications for mental health issues now that he’s in jail and has been working on his issues.

“He can never repair what he’s done but he’s trying to better his life,” Keairns said. He’s asking for the chance to make those changes and “needs a goal of getting out of prison at some point.” If given the minimum sentence of 28 years, he would be released in his 70s, which gives him hope.

Enfield’s statement was brief. He apologized to Undersheriff Hart and said he deserves to pay for the pain he has caused. He also apologized to Kelly and to the court for the time it took to negotiate a plea deal.

Judge Gonzales admonished Enfield for failing to take advantage of opportunities he had been given, including support from his family, and for a criminal history that paints “a pretty horrible picture” with seven convictions that sent him to DOC.

He then focused on Enfield trying to take the life of a law enforcement officer who was “just trying to do his job in keeping the community safe.”

“Law enforcement isn’t perfect, but they are held to a higher standard,” Gonzales said, “and we look down on them because of one or two officers. It’s not an easy job. Every day they go to work not knowing if they will come back. You aimed a gun at Undersheriff Hart and tried to kill him. There can be no excuse for that. A man willing to shoot a police officer who has a gun is a danger.”

Gonzales acknowledged that no one should have to experience what Enfield has in his life but “that doesn’t give you the right to do what you did.”

“If there’s one message, we should send in this case it’s that this community will not tolerate [violence against a police officer].”

Judge Gonzales said he did not impose the sentence easily but he “is not there to give [the defendant] hope.” He then sentenced Enfield to the maximum sentence of 35 years in the DOC.

Kelly made the following statement after the sentence had been delivered. “Mr. Enfield attempted to assassinate Rio Grande County Undersheriff Heath Hart. For this despicable act of extreme cowardice and depravity, Mr. Enfield deserves every day of every year that he spends in prison.  This community fully supports our men and women who wear the badge and risk their lives every day to keep us safe.  This sentence reflects our community’s commitment to holding dangerous offenders fully accountable for their murderous actions.”