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American Fork • A former College of Eastern Utah basketball coach who called in a bomb threat and caused panic at a Utah County elementary school last fall has been given one last chance to grapple with his mental illness or else face the possibility of years in prison.
Christopher Dewitt Craig wore a ski mask and a long, light-green tunic last September when he walked into Eagle Valley Elementary, claiming to have parked a car full of explosives near the front entrance.
The 36-year-old wore a mismatched Utah County jail uniform Tuesday as he awaited sentencing in Fourth District Court.
Judge Roger Griffin ordered Craig, who has been incarcerated since his arrest in September, to spend 60 more days in the Utah County jail before being released on what Griffin called a "zero-tolerance probation" for the next five years, during which time he will be required to receive treatment for the mental illness doctors, families and lawyers believe caused the once promising basketball coach to act out as a religious fanatic in recent years.
No bomb was found in Craig's car, but the 911 call he made caused panic and evacuation of the school.
Prosecutors agreed to a plea deal that included dropping a second-degree felony and a misdemeanor charge. Craig instead pleaded guilty to only a second-degree felony count of making a false alarm. If he violates his probation, he could serve up to 15 years in prison as part of the agreement.
"This would be one shot," defense attorney Dustin Parmley said. "If he messes up, he knows he'll be going to prison."
Doctors have given Craig diagnoses ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder with psychotic features to delusional disorder, his attorney said.
Craig played college basketball at the University of Texas-El Paso and went on to become the coach at the College of Eastern Utah. In recent years, however, the man had begun acting out, claiming to be an "Islamic jihadist" and had multiple run-ins with law enforcement.
"When he's medicated," Parmley said, "he doesn't act out."