GRANGEVILLE — After deliberating a little more than an hour Wednesday, a jury of five women and seven men found Sean L. Anderson guilty of felony aggravated assault on a peace officer and the use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime.
Anderson, 52, of Riggins, faces a possible 25 years in prison, which includes 10 years for aggravated assault on a peace office and an added 15 years for the use of a deadly weapon. Second District Judge Gregory FitzMaurice ordered a presentence investigation and set sentencing for 1 p.m. July 12.
Latah County Prosecutor William W. Thompson, who represented the state in the case, expressed satisfaction at the verdict and said the jury’s decision served justice.
Anderson sat expressionless next to his attorney, Mark T. Mosman, of Moscow, throughout the proceedings, but, as he was led away by deputies after the verdict, he called out, “I love you,” to his wife, Sandy, who was sitting in the back of the courtroom, weeping.
Anderson took the stand Wednesday to explain his version of events on the early morning of July 18 with Lewis County Deputy Walter Wilkinson. A traffic stop about 2:45 a.m. culminated in a shootout between Anderson and four law enforcement officers a few miles east of Ferdinand.
He had been at a friend’s house in Orofino that night, Anderson said, but left there without his wife. While driving along U.S. Highway 12 toward Kamiah, Anderson said he saw a car driving toward him with its high-beam headlights on (which turned out to be Wilkinson’s patrol vehicle).
Anderson said he flashed his lights to indicate to the approaching driver that he had his high beams on. When Wilkinson stopped him and asked to see his driver’s license, Anderson said he was upset because he believed Wilkinson was the offender in that situation. He said when Wilkinson told him he would put Anderson in jail for failing to cooperate, Anderson decided to drive away and end the argument.
It wasn’t until he saw Wilkinson’s flashing lights behind him as he entered Kamiah that he realized he was being followed, Anderson said.
Under questioning by Thompson, Anderson acknowledged that he did not stop, even though officers tried several times to get him to do so.
“I thought they were going to shoot me,” Anderson said. “In my mind, I thought they were going to shoot me.”
When Thompson asked about the roadblock Nez Perce County Tribal Officer Marcus Horton set up at the intersection of State Highway 162 and Old Highway 7, Anderson said he thought Horton was just there to watch for traffic.
“What traffic at 3 o’clock in the morning?” Thompson said. “In Idaho County?”
During the chase, Anderson had called the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office and demanded to speak to then-Sheriff Doug Giddings. In a highly emotional, obscenity-laced phone conversation, Anderson told Giddings to call off the cops and that the situation was not going to end well.
“I told him to stop and don’t run,” said Giddings, who was called as a witness. “He was just going to cause more problems. (But) he was not going to stop.”
Giddings was on the phone with Anderson when the gunbattle on Canyon Road near Ferdinand started. Jurors could hear the recording in which Giddings asked: “Are you still there? Sean, you still there?”
Under direct questioning by his attorney, Mark T. Monson, of Moscow, Anderson explained that the numerous weapons found inside his vehicle — including two loaded semi-automatic rifles and a loaded sidearm with a bullet in the chamber — were items he carried every day that he and his wife used for deer hunting.
When Thompson asked about the sawed-off shotgun Anderson used in the gunbattle with police, Anderson said he’d modified the weapon because he might run into bears while out in the woods camping or hunting.
Anderson also said, under questioning by Monson, that he’d never intended to harm anyone, but that he feared for his own life because he did not trust corrupt law enforcement.
But Thompson pointed out a statement Anderson had made two days earlier while attending a rally in Emmett, Idaho, that indicated a different frame of mind.
On the video of that rally, posted on YouTube, Anderson described himself as a radical and vowed he would not get arrested again. Thompson quoted Anderson saying: “I’ve made my line in the sand and I hope God watches over and protects me.”
Anderson admitted to making the statement, although he appealed to FitzMaurice, saying he believed that evidence was not going to be admitted during the trial.
Thompson asked, if Anderson had not intended to harm anyone, why he didn’t drop his weapon when ordered by officers to do so.
“I looked at it as, I was in a bad situation and I was going to die,” Anderson said. “So I was going to get it over with.”
After he was shot, Anderson said things went black.
“I spit out a tooth,” he said. “I saw darkness. I said, ‘God, please take me out of this mess.’ ”
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