From the May 2000 Idaho Observer:

Bonner Commission votes to help ISP investigate Prewitt case

SANDPOINT --On May 4, Bonner County Commissioners Bud Mueller, Dale Van Stone and Brain Orr agreed unanimously that the Idaho State Police can be called in to investigate circumstances that led to the prosecution and 7-10 year imprisonment of Rex Allen Prewitt, 43, of Sandpoint, for aggravated assault of a police officer.

Idaho Observer editor Don Harkins addressed the commissioners at their weekly meeting March 30, 2000, and informed them that the evidence shows Prewitt was innocent of the crime for which he was sentenced. Harkins also told the commissioners that documentation exists which strongly suggests evidence had been manufactured and falsified, testimony had been perjured and that several people, including Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson, perverted due process to cover the actions of Bonner County Sheriff's Deputies Bill Tilson and Eric Skinner.

At the April 27, 2000 meeting of the Bonner County Board of Commissioners, Prewitt's wife Lucy read from a 14-page statement that chronologized a littany of provable allegations against city and county officials and police officers who participated in the improper investigation that caused her husband's wrongful injuries and subsequent imprisonment.

Deputies Tilson and Skinner took it upon themselves to approach the Prewitt residence at 11:30 p.m. January 25, 1999 as they allegedly suspected Prewitt of having broken a window at Snow River Sheepskins in downtown Sandpoint at approximately 10 p.m. that same evening.

Deputies claim that Prewitt, in a drunken stupor, burst out the door of his home and held an unloaded gun on Deputy Skinner. Deputy Tilson fired five shots, one of which passed through Prewitt's left hand and into his right shoulder.

“Unless you believe in the Warren Commission's 'magic bullet theory' of the JFK assassination, it is impossible for Rex to have been holding a gun on Skinner and for Tilson, where he claims to have been standing, to shoot him in the hand in a manner that would also hit his shoulder,” commented Harkins.

“We know what happened,” said Lucy Prewitt. “The house was dark, the police had no lights, they approached the house, the cat jumped off the chair on the porch and the dogs burst out of the door when Rex opened it to see what was going on. Tilson panicked and started shooting.

“My husband was not holding a gun, his hand was up protecting his eyes either from Skinner's flashlight or the mace he sprayed in his eyes,” Mrs. Prewitt said.

Photographic evidence shows that Prewitt could not have been holding the gun when he got shot in the hand. Apparently for that reason, the gun, which Prewitt claims was cleaned and put away in his dresser drawer, has never been tested for fingerprints. See list of provable allegations page 5.

All because somebody broke a window in downtown Sandpoint...

Bonner County Sheriff's deputies Bill Tilson and Eric Skinner arrived at the home of Rex and Lucy Prewitt on Wild Turkey Road west of Sandpoint at 11:30 p.m., January 25, 1999, because they had taken it upon themselves to determine that Rex Prewitt was allegedly a suspect in the vandalism of Snow River Sheepskin on First Street in downtown Sandpoint earlier that evening. Because somebody who was not Rex Prewitt broke a window in downtown Sandpoint, an innocent man was shot and sent to prison. After extensively reviewing court transcripts and official documents, it appears that Bonner County authorities never even pretended to conduct a proper investigation into this matter. Thankfully, the Bonner County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed that the Prewitt case must be investigated more thoroughly and has agreed to call the Idaho State Police in to investigate. Following are just a few of the points that the ISP will be considering:

1.    It is known that five shots were fired by Bonner county. Investigators only found four casings at the scene and did not look for the fifth casing.

2.    Of the five shots fired, only two slugs were found by investigators: The one that was removed from Rex's shoulder and the one that we later found imbedded in the toe of a boot on the porch (which, to our knowledge, remains in evidence held by Bonner county but was never tested for DNA or other evidence). Investigators never found it important to locate the other bullets.

3.    A Bonner county official is seen holding an evidence tag up against a piece of flesh that was stuck to the wall. Bonner county never took the flesh into evidence to determine whether it was human or feline (our cat Augie disappeared that night and we presumed he had been shot. He appeared three weeks later with what a veterinarian stated appeared to be a bullet wound to his foot). After several days, Mrs. Prewitt took the flesh off the wall and paid to have it analyzed.

5.    There was never any attempt made to explain the trajectory of the bullets. A look at the scene and a study of the deputies' evolving testimony proves that either magic bullets were fired or the deputies' story is physically impossible.

6.    It was never questioned how Deputy Skinner's pepper spray and flashlight landed 18 inches apart even though, according to his own changing testimony, Deputy Skinner cannot remember what combination of items he was holding between his gun, pepper spray and his flashlight. It would seem critical to an investigation to know whether his gun was drawn or not, whether he had his flashlight out or not (and if he had it turned on) or if he had his pepper spray out.

7.    In violation of police protocols regarding the handling of police firearms after a shooting, neither Tilson's gun nor Skinner's gun were checked, nor were their guns taken for further investigation. Since not all of the casings were located, it would have been prudent for both deputies to have surrendered their weapons.

8.    There was never a crime scene analysis completed by an independent investigation from a state agency. Idaho State Police stated that it should have been called in to investigate but that it was never contacted by Bonner County to do so.

9.    Investigators never talked to neighbors who were known to have either been eyewitnesses or ear witnesses to what actually transpired. One would think that for a real investigation to have taken place, witnesses would be interviewed.

10.    The truck, which was the reason for BCSD to come to our home in the first place, was never photographed by investigators. The inside of the truck, for which a search warrant was obtained, was never photographed by investigators at the scene of the shooting. The outside of the house was never photographed by investigators. The carport was never photographed by investigators. We can understand why these items were not photographed: The truck was not the truck described by Mr. Coates as leaving the scene of the vandalism of his store, therefore there was no reason to photograph the inside of the truck as it couldn't possibly contain evidence of the crime. Neither the house nor the carport were photographed because doing so, as photographs prove, would make Deputy Skinner's testimony appear to be perjurous at it becomes plainly obvious that Rex could not have seen the police arrive, with or without their lights on.

11.    The blood/alcohol test results were never questioned by investigators. Shortly after arriving at Bonner General Hospital, Rex was tested to be .16-a level that reflects his story that he had two mixed drinks before going to bed. Somehow, two days later, a report that does not qualify as evidence as the chain of custody had been broken, was used by Mr. Robinson as evidence that Rex had a BAC of .31.

12.    Rex was ultimately convicted of Assault of a Police Officer because deputies Skinner and Tilson state that he burst from his home with a gun drawn. There was never any analysis conducted on the gun Rex allegedly pointed at them.

There is good reason for this. Police photos, show there are only a few (6) specks of blood near the gun grip. There is no way that this (partially cocked and unloaded) gun was being held by a man who was shot in the hand and, according to Deputy Skinner, kicked twice by him. Police photos also show specks of blood that outline the gun on the floor of the porch as if blood was spattered on the gun after it had somehow come to rest on the porch floor.

13.    Investigators never subpeonaed phone records for dispatch calls.

14.    Neither Skinner nor Tilson have ever been questioned under oath by independent investigators although their prior testimony is not conclusive nor corroborated by physical evidence.

15.    Dispatch records have never been questioned even though Coats stated that he read the license plate number into his mobile phone while talking to 911.

16.    Neither the pepper spray canister nor the flashlight were tested for blood.

17.    Motive was never established. We had money in the bank; Rex, a jeweler, had in excess of $20,000 worth of finished jewelry in our home that he owned; he had a good job and the following day he was to realize a promotion. We have testimony from a friend that Rex called him at 8 p.m. Rex did not commit the crime of breaking a window.

18.    Investigators never took a look at all of the statements made by officers and dispatchers in an attempt to solve the myriad of discrepancies that appear to contradict one another.

Lucy Prewitt told Bonner County Commissioners that, “A proper and legal investigation by an outside agency was never held. The investigation was conducted by the two agencies that were originally engaged in the Snow River Sheepskin vandalism and the shooting itself. These agencies' inadequate, incomplete and biased investigating has covered-up the wrongful shooting of Rex which led to his arrest. He was pushed through the courts by lies and fraudulent acts of the prosecution, attorneys and law enforcement agencies involved. Rex and his family have been sacrificed to cover up the excessive force and near death shooting of him by Deputies Bill Tilson and Eric Skinner.”

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