Former Stevenson police chief sentenced in federal court

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A former north Alabama police chief has been sentenced to 27 months in prison. Daniel Winters, of Stevenson, was convicted in July on federal assault and excessive force charges.

WHNT News 19's Brian Lawson was in the courtroom today for the sentencing.

The jury that found Winters guilty of the charges only deliberated for an hour.

Winters faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The case stemmed from March 2015, when a friend of Winters, Stevenson businessman Bobby Hicks, discovered his funeral home had been burglarized, including a grandfather clock.

Federal prosecutors told jurors that the two men went into a home and began beating the burglary suspect, David Fulmer.

Winters attorney Robert Ray had asked the court to give Winters probation. He said the underlying offense of assault did not rise to the level of a felony. He said the victim in the case, Fulmer, did not suffer significant bodily injury, as defined by state law.

Ray also told the court Winters suffers from a number of health problems.

The court heard from Winters' son, a nephew and family friend. All three men talked about his good character and long record of law enforcement service.

U.S. District Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala said she believed the testimony about Winters' years of service to the community, but said he had a duty to enforce the law and protect Fulmer, even as he was taking him into custody.

The judge's 27-month sentence was below the federal guidelines. She said it reflected Winters' service and also the importance of law enforcement officers upholding the law.

Winters was also ordered to pay more than $12,000 in restitution. He was ordered to report to federal prison officials in early March.