A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Sean L. Anderson, of Riggins, who faces a possible 25-year prison sentence in connection with a charge of felony aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
An initial hearing via the Idaho Supreme Court website was held Wednesday morning before Magistrate Judge Jeff P. Payne, of Grangeville. Anderson, displaying a deep wound to his left eye and cheek, joined the hearing from the Nez Perce County Jail. Latah County Prosecutor William W. Thompson was present from his Moscow office and John Wiltse of the Idaho County public defender office of McFarland Law Offices also listened in. The public defender law firm was later appointed to represent Anderson, who said he could not afford an attorney and currently has no job.
Anderson, 52, was taken into custody July 23 following a July 18 shootout with deputies from Lewis and Idaho counties and a Nez Perce Tribal officer. The confrontation that occurred in Ferdinand followed a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 12 from which Anderson allegedly fled. An Idaho State Police investigation revealed that Anderson called the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office before being stopped at Ferdinand and allegedly threatened to shoot officers if they tried to stop him.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Anderson allegedly fired on the officers with a sawed-off, 12-gauge Winchester shotgun after his vehicle was blocked by the officers in a residential area of Ferdinand. All four officers then returned fire and Anderson was hit and did not fire a second round. He was taken to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston and later moved to Providence Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. Following his release from the hospital, Anderson was taken into custody by the Spokane City Police and on Tuesday waived extradition to be returned to Idaho.
Anderson appeared calm and composed as Payne read the criminal information to him Wednesday morning and explained several points Anderson asked about. Anderson told Payne he could not read the information himself because he was blind in one eye and indicated he had problems with the second eye.
One question had to do with the maximum sentence of 25 years that is more than double what the sentence would ordinarily be because Anderson allegedly attempted to harm a law enforcement officer.
The criminal information revealed that the Lewis County deputy who Anderson allegedly threatened was Walter Wilkinson. None of the other officers involved have been identified and their names have been redacted from the probable cause affidavit. Only Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings has confirmed that the Idaho County officer involved was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case. Giddings said that is normal procedure following an incident such as this. Lewis County Sheriff Jason Davis and spokesmen at the Nez Perce Tribal Police Department declined to comment on the status of their officers.
Payne set a preliminary hearing, which will be broadcast over the Supreme Court website, for 1:15 p.m. Aug. 6. Payne also set bail at $1 million, saying that Anderson poses “an extreme flight risk and extreme concerns if he were to be released.” Payne said there is “a high likelihood he may not return on his own,” and if others attempted to return him, “somebody could get seriously injured or killed in the process.”
Thompson agreed with the bail amount of $1 million based, he said, on the nature of the offense, what is contained in the probable cause affidavit and Anderson’s “outlook on life and past history.”
Anderson and his wife, Sandra, were among the final four holdouts at an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Ore., in 2016. During that standoff, Anderson was featured in a video posted online where he yelled, “American people better wake up and get here and fight for your country right now, it is on. If they stop you from getting here, kill them.”
Later, during a federal court hearing in Oregon releasing him from jail, Anderson apologized for the statements and said he was embarrassed about them.
Hedberg may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 983-2326.