An Alexandria Circuit Court judge yesterday sentenced convicted murderer Wilbert Lee Evans to die in Virginia's electric chair for the fatal shooting of a sheriff's deputy on the steps of the city jail during an escape attempt last January.

Judge Wiley R. Wright's decision that Evans, a 34-year-old North Carolina native, should die Sept. 1 upheld a Circuit Court jury recommendation reached after a three-day trial last April. Under Virginia law, the conviction will be automatically appealed to the State Supreme Court. The execution date almost certainly will be postponed. Virginia has executed no prisoners since 1962.

Evans shot and killed Deputy William Truesdale on the steps of the jail with the officer's own gun last Jan. 27. He was apprehended shortly afterward by police after a wild pursuit through the crowded streets of Old Town Alexandria.

Evans showed little emotion at his sentencing. He apologized to the judge and contended he "wasn't trying to kill nobody" in the incident in which he was trying to escape from custody.

Defense attorney Stefan Long argued the death sentence was too severe and announced his intention to file a motion for a new trial.