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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Michael Sublie

Houseboat owner says he was recorded following shooting

The owner of a houseboat charged with assaulting a National Park Service ranger during a dispute about loud music before another opened fire, injuring a guest, says he was recorded secretly after the shooting.

Michael Sublie has been charged with assault and obstruction of justice stemming from the Sept. 14 incident at the Kettle River Campground just northwest of Kettle Falls. According to court documents, rangers Joshua Wentz and Matthew Phillipson approached Sublie's boat - moored for an end-of-the-summer party, witnesses said – after 10 p.m., established quiet hours on the secluded, federally owned property.

Wentz used pepper spray and a stun gun in an attempt to subdue Sublie, then was pushed from the gangplank, according to court documents filed last week. Phillipson opened fire with his service weapon, striking passenger Casey Hartinger in the side.

Hartinger was standing near his children, aged 10 and 14, when he was fired upon, according to court documents.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Tyler Tornabene asked a judge to preclude all evidence of the shooting from jurors' ears, arguing Phillipson fired after the commission of the alleged crimes. But Sublie's attorney, Roger Peven, said in filings Tuesday the events occurred simultaneously, and it would confuse jurors to divide the two.

“The shooting happened literally during the middle of the interaction between Mr. Sublie and Ranger Wentz when Ranger Phillipson discharged his weapon,” Peven wrote.

Peven also alleges that Sublie was surreptitiously recorded by National Park Service rangers during a discussion with a local police officer who responded to the scene. Sublie was placed in a National Forest Service patrol car when he spoke with the officer, whom he knew, according to court documents. Peven wrote rangers placed a recording device in the car to keep tabs on what was said.

Hartinger received medical attention from medical technicians already present at the scene, according to court documents. He was later treated at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane and released. He has not been charged with any crimes in the incident.

A jury trial in the case is tentatively scheduled for May. Sublie, who is not in custody and has no other criminal history, faces up to a year-and-a-half in prison if convicted.

Trial delayed for boat owner in Kettle River Campground shooting

Michael Sublie will not be back in a federal courtroom until January to face charges of obstructing a federal law officer and violating National Park Service noise restrictions during an incident in September when a ranger fired and struck a partygoer on Sublie's boat.

Citing the ongoing investigation by multiple agencies into the shooting, both the government and Sublie requested a continuance for a hearing scheduled Tuesday afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Rodgers approved a delay of the hearing until January, with an expected trial date now scheduled for February.

Sublie pleaded not guilty to all charges shortly after the Sept. 14 confrontation, the details of which remain under wraps by the Washington State Patrol and Investigative Services Branch of the National Park Service, who are both looking into the incident. A Spokesman-Review request for investigative materials was denied via email earlier this month by the WSP because of the ongoing investigation.

Sworn statements filed in court said Sublie became verbally confrontational when two rangers attempted to board his boat investigating excess noise. The standoff turned physical, and Sublie shoved one of the rangers off the gangplank, according to court documents.

Friends and family of Sublie and Casey Hartinger, the man who was struck in the ribs by a bullet fired by a ranger, say the incident occurred following an end-of-the-summer party held by local law enforcement and emergency services personnel. A rally was held supporting Sublie and Hartinger outside the Stevens County Courthouse last month.

The Park Service and WSP continue to withhold the names of the two officers involved in the shooting incident. Supporters of Sublie and Hartinger have identified the rangers as Josh Wentz and Matt Phillipson.

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