Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Trial set in assault case

Express Staff Writer

Facing 5th District Judge Robert Elgee for the first time, Daniel D. Hunt on Monday entered pleas of ?not guilty? to felony aggravated assault and felony aggravated battery charges he faces in connection with a bloody chain of events in the woods near the Big Wood River this spring.

Hunt, 45, was bound over to 5th District Court early in August to stand trial for the alleged crimes. During the Monday arraignment, his trial was set for Oct. 26.

Hunt is accused of using excessive force May 16 during a fight he had with local resident Tom Algiers in the woods near the River Run base of Bald Mountain. Algiers, 46, was killed during the early morning hours of May 16 when a Blaine County deputy shot him twice in a standoff.

The investigation of the initial aggravated battery charge against Hunt was turned over to the Idaho Attorney General?s Office in late May because of a possible conflict of in-terest for Blaine County Prosecutor Jim Thomas.

Both Thomas and Deputy Curtis Miller, who shot Algiers, are county employees.

Police responded to a 911 tele-phone call that Hunt made at about 2 a.m. on May 16. Hunt told police and Blaine County Dispatcher Janet Hill-man he had been attacked by Algiers and had defended himself with a ma-chete.

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Fem-ling said when Algiers was found in the dense, night-swept woods, he refused to drop a knife he carried. Algiers allegedly had cornered two county deputies. Miller retaliated.

Hunt?s public defender, Stephen Thompson, agreed in an earlier hear-ing that blows had been delivered to Algiers in an apparent struggle, but he argued that Hunt had acted in self-defense.

There is no evidence to disprove Hunt?s allegations that Algiers tried to choke him, Thompson said.

Thompson indicated in the prior hearing that part of Hunt?s defense at trial will be that he was not read his Miranda Rights and that there is no evidence in the case that contradicts Hunt?s statements of self defense.

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