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Etna shooting investigation continues

Lincoln County Courthouse

◆ Charges not yet filed in “complicated case”

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has concluded their investigation of a shooting that took place in Etna on April 14. The investigation is now in the hands of the Lincoln County Attorney’s Office who is reviewing the case.

The case stems back to what Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson deemed a domestic incident. A female was shot multiple times early in the morning at roughly 4:20. The woman survived and spent several days recovering at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Very few details have been provided as the investigative process continues.

“It took a long time for the investigation to make its way to us, so as you can imagine I’ve got a large file that I’m going through right now,” stated Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred during a live interview on SVI Radio. “We have not decided which charges, if any, to file at this point. We’re going through all the information. Going through relevant statutes, case law and previous cases that have come through in the State of Wyoming as well as some things the State Legislature has recently done in regards to gun incidents before we decide if charges are appropriate in this matter.”

“We’re being very careful about the investigation and how it moves forward to determine whether or not we have a case and to put together the best case possible,” continued Allred.

“It’s not a cut and dry shooting,” added Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson. “There’s a lot of nuances to this. Some other laws come into place, such as the ability to protect yourself and things like that. Those are all things that we have to look at. It’s not as straightforward as some people wanted it to be. We consider all those things. The ability to protect your place. The ability to be safe in your domain. All those things come into play and all the circumstances surrounding it.”

Allred said that he expects that in the next 2-3 weeks his office will have a better idea of how they are going to proceed. “There are a lot of layers to this case on both sides and with all people that are involved. There’s a lot of statutes that come into play as well as defenses and nuances that case law has really brought out over the last few years. We’re going through each and every process to determine what should happen in this case.”

Sheriff Johnson also spoke to the criticism his department has received in the way the investigation has been handled. “Our priority is not to satisfy curiosity. Safety is number one but as we’ve said before there was no danger to other people,” stated Johnson. “That wasn’t enough for some people, which I get, but we’re always going to err on the side of the integrity of the investigation, not making sure that everyone has all the info that they think is important to them. When you put a case together and if you ultimately have to prosecute that, all those things become important as to the way you have investigated it and the steps you’ve taken along the way.”

“The integrity of the investigation is foremost, not the curiosity on Facebook or by individuals,” continued Johnson. “We were in contact with people involved in the case, obviously, and talking to them. People want to know, I get that. I’m certainly not misunderstanding the fact that people want to know what’s going on in the community. But again, our priority is always going to be the investigation and its integrity.”

From the legal side of the investigation, Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred echoed the sentiments of Sheriff Johnson. “A lot of times anything that is happening in an investigation, especially when there’s outside influences, it can affect the prosecution later on,” stated Allred. “Not only are we protecting the integrity of the investigation but also the integrity of the prosecution. We have to be very careful with how we go about these things.”

More details about the case and the incident will be made available when and if charging documents are filed.

Both Johnson and Allred emphasized that the shooting on April 14 had no correlation to another incident involving shots fired that happened June 1 in the same area. In that case, Etna resident Leanne Gardner was booked into jail after a gun discharged during a physical altercation. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office reported that an individual did receive minor injuries but they were not the result of the gunshot. Charges have been filed, including possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent, aggravated assault, aggravated burglary and use of a controlled substance. Attorney Allred said the case has gone to the initial appearance with bond being set at $125,000. Allred said the case has stalled, however, following a suspension of proceedings so that a competency evaluation could be done.

The full interview with both Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson and Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred can be found at SVInews.com/radio or on the radio page of the SVI News App.

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