The Monroe man who told police he had wanted them to kill him following a high-speed chase down U.S. Highway 2 in July was sentenced Monday to 1 1/2 years in prison with credit for time served.

When law enforcement took Rene Fabian Ramona Ruiz into custody three months ago, his wife, who was in the passenger seat, had cuts on her body and was covered in gasoline; he was believed to be a threat to the community if released, according to court documents.

Ruiz took a plea agreement earlier this month in which he admitted to second-degree assault and attempt to elude a police vehicle. The defense and prosecuting attorney's representing the case say drug use and mental illness played a role in his conduct.

The 38-year-old was suspected of being high on meth at the time of the chase. That day, Ruiz had held a knife to his wife's throat while she called 911 from the vehicle he was driving eastbound, according to probable cause documents. The victim first made contact with dispatchers just after 5:30 p.m.

On the phone a woman screamed, “He's got a knife to my throat, I am in a car, I don't know where I am!” and a man yelling “Shut the f*** up!” could be heard, according to Sheriff's deputy Jeff Howerton's incident report. More calls rolled in. Witnesses reported a potential robbery, and then a car that was driving into oncoming traffic.

Responders tracked Ruiz and his wife down in an unincorporated community, according to Howerton's report. Ruiz then pulled into the eastbound lane of the highway. He drove in the wrong lane and straddled the centerline.

“They just passed me going westbound on (Highway) 2 going into Startup,” an officer could be heard saying on a recording of scanner feed. “They tried to take me head on.”

The 38-year-old kept his head bowed floor during most of his sentencing on Monday. He declined to make any final comments when Snohomish County Superior Court Judge David Kurtz gave him the opportunity.

Kurtz asked about an employment history. Ruiz said he has worked in concrete and landscaping. According to his plea agreement, he left school after completing the sixth grade.

Ruiz has five misdemeanors on his record, going back to 1997. Three are fourth-degree assault charges, two of which relate to domestic violence. The most recent was third-degree malicious mischief, which he was charged with last year. 

Ruiz and his wife have been married for nearly two decades. The couple has two daughters together.

She has not been responsive to the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney's Office requests since the incident, according to the prosecuting attorney at Monday's sentencing. Her lack of cooperation was taken into account while coming up with a sentencing recommendation for the court, he said.

She had told a sheriff's deputy her husband said he was going to kill her that day. Ruiz took her to relatives to tell them goodbye, prior to the pursuit by law enforcement. They had also gone to a Texaco, bought gasoline, and Ruiz doused them both.

“He then held a lighter in his mouth as he was trying to close the gas can,” according to Howerton's report. “She was able to knock the lighter out of his mouth and break it.”

The prosecuting attorney recommended the maximum sentence in the standard range for Ruiz, which Kurtz accepted.

“Clearly this was a drug-related incident,” the prosecuting attorney said. “That is certainly not something that is an excuse, but it is something that, certainly the hope would be that Mr. Carmona Ruiz can at least obtain drug treatment, both while serving his sentence, as well as on his release on community custody, and address that issue as it appears that clearly that was deeply related in terms of what he was thinking and what he was doing at the time of this current offense.”

Monroe Police officers assisted the sheriff’s office in finding the couple and the vehicle. Ruiz was reportedly clocked at speeds close to 70 mph during the pursuit as he headed for Monroe.

After Ruiz passed through Sultan, he avoided two spike strips thrown down by police, according to court documents. He allegedly still had a utility knife in his hand when officers first made contact to take him into custody. His wife had three cuts on her arm and “reeked of gasoline,” according to the documents.

The prosecuting attorney said that those wounds turned out to be superficial. They did not require serious medical treatment, he said.

Court documents state Ruiz admitted to the accusations that he had planned to kill himself and his wife, but later said he had only wanted to kill himself. He also reportedly switched part of his story that he had fled from police because he wanted to avoid jail; instead saying it was because he wanted to be killed by them.

Donald Wackerman, Ruiz's lawyer, said he has had some contact with the defendant's wife. She has relayed her greatest concern for her husband is that he receive treatment for his drug abuse. Prior to the July incident, she said her husband had been experiencing depression and was self-medicating; he had also previously talked about committing suicide, he said.

One in five people who have a mood disorder, such as anxiety or depression, also have an alcohol or substance abuse disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The statistic can also be applied in reverse. One in four adults in the U.S. live with anxiety or depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.

“These are incredibly sad circumstances,” Wackerman said. “That's not to diminish the seriousness of what could have happened, but thank God nothing more serious did. Mr. Carmona Ruiz is willing to accept responsibility for his actions...”

It was also not to say something worse wouldn't have happened, he said. Wackerman asked that some of his client's financial obligations be waived in the sentencing, which Kurtz accepted.

He sentenced Ruiz to 14 months in prison for the first count of domestic violence, and for 90 days for the second count of attempt to elude. He will receive credit for time served since July.

Ruiz is not to have contact with his wife. Wackerman said she might agree to appear in court to limit or modify Ruiz's no-contact order. She may also decide to request restitution payments, which Kurtz reserved the right to impose within the next 180 days.

Ruiz will also serve 18 months of community custody following his release. Kurtz and the prosecuting attorney said they took into account the fact that Ruiz has no prior felonies while making their decisions.

“I hope that, whether it is in the institution or out in community custody, at some point, that you do make a real commitment to address those (substance abuse) issues, as well as a commitment to make sure that you are not in any kind of position where you are threatening the safety of others,” Kurtz said.