A Lewiston man could face up to 40 years in prison for allegedly beating two Native American men unconscious and striking a Native American woman after using “racial slurs and derogatory terms,” in an incident outside of a Lewiston bar earlier this month.
Hunter E. Jones, 22, was charged with two counts of felony aggravated battery and two counts of felony malicious harassment in Nez Perce County Magistrate Court on Monday.
Aggravated battery carries a prison term of up to 15 years and malicious harassment, Idaho’s version of a hate crime statute, carries a term of up to five years in prison.
According to a probable cause affidavit, witnesses said Jones and another man, both white, yelled slurs and said things like “Go back to the Rez,” when the two Native American men and their companions left Boomtown Saloon on the 500 block of Main Street in Lewiston on July 11. Much of the ensuing incident was captured on security footage.
A Native American woman who was part of the group leaving the bar turned around to confront Jones and his companion. According to a police report, she threw a handful of dirt at Jones. One of the Native American men stepped between Jones and the woman. Jones then allegedly struck him in the face and picked him up and slammed him to the street. In the ensuing altercation, the Native American man was punched multiple times and again slammed to the street, resulting in loss of consciousness and an orbital fracture. The woman told police she was dragged to the ground by Jones and punched in the face.
Another Native American man attempted to intervene and swung a box wrench at the man who was with Jones. The man, who is named as a co-defendant in the police report but has not yet been charged, tackled the man with the wrench, gained control of it and hit him with it multiple times. Jones also allegedly struck the man, according to the video, and another witness said Jones also hit the man with the wrench. The man suffered a skull fracture and bleeding between the brain and tissue covering the brain, according to the police report.
Jones was interviewed by police Friday and allegedly admitted to being involved in a fight in which the other man had a wrench. He declined to offer additional details but said he was hit in the face by a Native American woman.
Deputy Nez Perce County Prosecutor Joey Parker asked Judge Gregory Kalbfleisch to set bond at $50,000. Rick Cuddihy, representing Jones, argued for his client to be released without bond, citing his close ties to the community and lack of felony criminal history. Kalbfleisch set bond at $25,000 and ordered Jones to refrain from alcohol and illegal drugs and to stay out of bars. He also issued an order forbidding Jones from having any contact with the alleged victims.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 28.
Barker may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.