From the June 2002 Idaho Observer:

Evidence of evidence tampering surfaces in Prewitt case

Judge, prosecutor, apparently prefer innocent man receive tainted trial or no trial at all

By The Idaho Observer

Rex Prewitt was asleep on his couch January 24, 1999, when Bonner County sheriff's deputies Eric Skinner and Bill Tillson arrived at his rural Dover area home at 11:30 p.m. The deputies claimed they were investigating misdemeanor vandalism (that was later upgraded to felony attempted burglary to justify their late night, midwinter visit in violation of police protocols). Deputies claim they approached the Prewitt house with emergency lights flashing, that the Prewitt's porch light was on and the house was quiet. Eye witness accounts contradict the first two claims and Prewitt says that he was awakened out of a dead sleep by his barking dogs. According to Prewitt, whose story has never changed while deputies have consistently changed theirs, he opened his door to see why the dogs were barking. Prewitt was then pepper sprayed and shot through the left hand and right shoulder by deputies. Prewitt claims to have had no idea his assailants were police and remembers being asked if he had any guns. By the time other officers arrived, a handgun had appeared and the deputies were claiming Prewitt pulled it on them and that they reacted in self-defense. The handgun turned out to be unloaded and police photos show a few pristine drops of blood on the handgrip. An independent crime scene analysis confirms that it would have been impossible for Prewitt to have held that gun on deputies.

After recovering sufficiently from his substantial injuries, it became apparent that Prewitt was to receive a mock trial in a kangaroo court that intended to convict him of aggravated assault on a police officer and send him to prison as a means to cover up what was probably an unintentional panic shooting. Rather than go to trial with legal counsel that seemed to be more helpful to the prosecution than his own defense, Prewitt agreed to a plea that was not honored by Judge Michaud. Rather than two years as agreed, Michaud sentenced Prewitt to serve 7-10 -- for being asleep on his couch and getting shot by cops.

Prewitt has not sat in prison whining about how unfair life is. Rather, he has been engineering his own defenses by learning the law and applying it as best he can. He has several actions going at this time and won the right to an appeal last December. Those of us who are close to the Prewitt family were optimistic about his chances to prevail. Not only is every scrap of evidence (both tampered and untampered) on his side, but the political climate in the county seemed ripe for justice to prevail in this case.

Rather unexpectedly, Prewitt declined to risk a new trial at this time. Subtle hints were indicating that county machinery led by Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson would not permit Prewitt to win -- no matter what.

On this page are three pieces of correspondence that speak volumes in this case. If you live in Bonner county you should be outraged. The evidence in this case is clearly being tampered with to reinforce the continued imprisonment of an innocent man.

1. Prewitt discovers that the shirt he was wearing at the time of the incident is not in evidence but a “No Fear” shirt that belonged to another man in a closed case was. Prewitt brings this to the attention of Judge Michaud. He also brings to the judge's attention that the gun appears to have been tampered with.

2. Judge Michaud forwards Prewitt's letter to Prosecutor Robinson who files a one-sentence “Submission to Court” with a letter from Sandpoint Police Detective Steve Feldhausen attached.

3. Prewitt acknowledges receipt of the “Submission to Court” and eloquently explains how none of his concerns have been addressed and that he has been deprived of any chance of a fair trial. As a result it looks like he will have to continue to stay imprisoned for the commission of a crime that he did not commit.

This case has been covered extensively in previous editions of The Idaho Observer. Hardcopies of the back issues (July, 1999 and February, 2001) are in limited supply. The stories are also available elsewhere on this site.

To see copies of the actual letters obtain a hardcopy of the June edition of The IO.

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