From the May 1999 Idaho Observer:

Evidence, witnesses indicate rape suspect innocence

Boundary County prosecution of Tyler curious, suspicious

The Idaho Observer

Boundary County Prosecutor Denise Woodbury is apparently being pressured to prosecute Moyie Springs resident Mark Tyler for kidnapping, rape, aggravated assault and other charges stemming from an incident to which Boundary County sheriff's deputies responded late last January. Tyler, 31, is accused of kidnapping and raping, while in possession of a shotgun, his girlfriend Joyce Woodward, 45, also of Moyie Springs.

Witnesses have attested to Tyler's innocence of the heinous crimes. Woodbury, who made national headlines in 1997 when she attempted to prosecute federal sniper/assassin Lon Horiuchi for manslaughter over the murder of Vicki Weaver in 1993, has been presented with evidence which indicates that the state will not be able to convict Tyler.

According to Geoff Palmer who has been the investigator for Tyler's attorney, “As of May 4, 1999, two sheriffs deputies are still attempting to avoid having this case go to trial.” Palmer, a retired police officer with 26 years experience in law enforcement, added that, “This is the most ridiculous case I have ever seen go to trial.”

A trial date had been set for April 27, 1999, but District Judge James Michaud postponed the trial allegedly because his schedule was full.

Coincidentally, Woodward, the state's star witness against Tyler, had been arrested for DUI April 17, 1999, and was so intoxicated that she reportedly fell in her cell and was taken to Boundary County Hospital and treated for a broken nose and a lacerated face. “I can't prove it, but I think that the trial was postponed because it wouldn't look so good if the state's witness against Mark (Tyler) was all banged up and bruised because she fell down in jail after being arrested for a DUI,” commented Tyler's mother Fran Tyler.

Boundary County Sheriffs Department reportedly knows that Woodward is connected to the manufacture and trafficking of crystal methamphetamine (crank) in Boundary County. Besides having been thrown in jail for a DUI last April 17, Woodward had also been arrested March 17 for DUI. It is interesting , considering Idaho's strict drinking and driving laws, Magistrate Quentin Hardin released Woodward on her own recognizance in both cases.

The Tyler case has been rescheduled for trial May 24. By all accounts, Tyler may be guilty of being stupid, but he is not guilty of the violent crimes of rape and aggravated assault.

Chronology of events

The following is a chronology of events that can be proven through documentation, evidence or affidavits from witnesses.

On January 24, 1999, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Mark J. Tyler, 31, allegedly arrived at the home of Joyce M Woodward, 45. According to Ms. Woodward's statement to the BCSD he had a shotgun with him and an altercation ensued between them over possession of the same. Tyler does not deny the possession of the firearm, but does maintain that he did not threaten Woodward with it, but (Tyler) was contemplating suicide at the time and she tried to gain access to the weapon to prevent him from doing himself injury.

They subsequently entered the car of Pat Chaney. Both Tyler and Woodward left her residence with Chaney. Tyler was the driver and both Chaney and Woodward were passengers. Woodward maintains that she was forced to go with them but both Tyler and Chaney state that she went of her own free will and in fact gave Chaney money for gas when he dropped them off at the Moyie Store.

When Woodward did not come home, a massive manhunt was started by the County Sheriffs office with additional police recruited from both Bonner and Kootenai County law enforcement. The news media from as far away as Spokane, Washington, were alerted to the situation by BCSD and the Channel 4 television station immediately sent a full news crew to cover this story.

According to Woodward and Tyler they spent the night by a bonfire in the woods near the Moyie Springs area. Woodward maintains that she was being held against her will but also testified at the probable cause hearing that at one point in the evening Tyler gave her the gun and requested she shoot him because he did not have the nerve to do so himself.

She subsequently returned the gun to him.

On the morning of January 25, 1999, they returned to Moyie Springs and went to the home of Jerry Wylie and Bobbie Wilson and entered the premises although no one was home at the time. When Mr. Wylie and Ms. Wilson returned to the residence they found Woodward and Tyler sitting in the living room talking, and cuddling on the couch with the shotgun out of reach.

Both Wylie and Wilson's statement confirm there was no force being used and she (Woodward) stated she had gone with Mark of her own free will.

Another witness Judy Murphy (Wylie's mother) stated she talked at length with Tyler on the front porch regarding their presence in the home. She also stated they were cuddling on the couch. She saw no sign of force and the shotgun was in full view and at her request they placed it out of sight behind the couch. After a brief time Woodward kissed Tyler goodbye and walked to her own residence just down the street totally unharmed.

It was her plan to call BCSD and get the situation resolved. Woodward had to go to work, but Tyler suggested she not show up and tell work that he (Tyler) “forced” her to go with him, this would avoid any problems at work, for not showing up.

Tyler then went to the home of Tim Hamilton, to return the shotgun. BCSD was notified of Tyler's location but their extended response time made it possible for Tyler to leave for his own residence. BCSD was again notified of Mr. Tyler's location but did not find him at that time. The entire area was swarming with law enforcement officers including a swat team although they had been informed that Tyler was unarmed.

Later that evening BCSD returned to Tyler's residence with his mother who entered the home and walked outside with Tyler, who surrendered voluntarily without incident.

According to Tyler's statement, he had been to Woodward's residence earlier January 24 and he had been drinking heavily and that together they had been using controlled substances. He said they left together and spent the evening discussing some of the things that were bothering both of them.

Tyler also maintains that the initial contact that day was at Woodward's request.

After Tyler's incarceration Woodward has been very vocal in her discussions regarding the entire incident. She arrived at the Moyie Club in Moyie Springs one evening and began talking to the bartender Brenda Borella and told her that she was still Tyler's girlfriend and that he was totally innocent and should not be in jail but that if she told the truth they would not believe her and if they did she would go to jail.

As the evening progressed Woodward started harassing various customers in the establishment and was refused service and requested to leave.

This was not the first time that Woodward had been disruptive and been refused service and required to leave.

On March 17, 1999, Woodward was arrested for a DUI and later released on her own recognizance. On April 17, l999, Woodward was once again arrested for a DUI and placed in the Boundary County Jail. At this time she was so intoxicated that she fell in the jail and was transported to the Boundary County Hospital where she was treated for a broken nose and an injury to her forehead which required stitches.

On Monday, April 19, she appeared before Judge Quentin Hardin and was once again released on her own recognizance.

On the night of Tyler's arrest Mrs. Tyler was told not to be too concerned that he certainly was not convicted of anything and that they doubted that it would ever go to trial. Sheriff's deputies also implied to Hamilton at the time that they interviewed him that they did not believe that it would ever reach trial. During the time of the search for Tyler and Woodward, Mrs. Tyler was asked by BCSD if she thought that they could have planned this and have taken off together, she replied it was a possibility. She was also told by the BCSD dispatcher that they knew that Woodward was a drug dealer in this county and that her son and his girlfriend were manufacturing methamphetamines at a location in Bonner County.

According to Tyler's attorney two of the Boundary County sheriffs have told him that they did not have a case against Tyler and even joked about maybe getting him to plead guilty to trespassing.

At a previous court appearance in December, 1998, at which Tyler was accused of domestic battery, prosecutor Todd Reed talked to Woodward in the hall and then came into the courtroom and offered a plea agreement to Tyler which was refused.

Tyler was unwilling to plead guilty to anything he had not done. Reed then again went out and talked with Woodward and returned to the court room and dismissed all charges . Upon Tyler's rearrest in January these charges were refilled even though they had been previously dismissed.

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