Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Judge removed in Elkhorn gun case

Defendant pleads not guilty to threatening Hailey attorney

Express Staff Writer

    A 36-year-old Elkhorn man pleaded not guilty at arraignment Monday in Blaine County 5th District Court to allegations that he pointed a gun at Hailey attorney Douglas Nelson during a confrontation with the man’s girlfriend in May.
    John Terill Harbeck is charged with aggravated assault, a felony, for an alleged incident that occurred in Elkhorn Village on May 19. According to Sun Valley police reports, Nelson was riding a bicycle through the village around 6 p.m. when he inadvertently came upon the couple in a vehicle near the now-vacant Elkhorn Market building. Harbeck allegedly knocked Nelson from his bicycle and pointed a gun at his face, telling him to “stay out of this.”
    Harbeck is also charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Harbeck also pleaded not guilty to that charge, also a felony. At Harbeck’s arraignment, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback said Harbeck has a felony conviction from 2005 in Washington.
    Prosecutors have also added a penalty enhancement, accusing Harbeck of being a “persistent violator” of the law. The penalty enhancement is punishable by up to life in prison.
    In another development, Judge Robert Elgee announced at the hearing that he has been disqualified from the case and that it will have to be assigned to a different district court judge. The disqualification motion was filed by the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which is not required to state a reason for the disqualification under Idaho judiciary rules.
    Harbeck, who is represented by public defender Christopher Simms, requested a jury trial. Elgee said the trial would have to be scheduled when a new judge is appointed to the case.
    Harbeck remains incarcerated in the Blaine County jail on $200,000 bond.

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