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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Wesley Hoyt

Ruling a setback for Steeleā€™s defense

BOISE - Edgar Steele’s defense won’t be able to call two expert witnesses it lined up to question the authenticity of FBI tapes of Steele talking with Larry Fairfax about an alleged murder-for-hire plot against Steele’s wife, Cyndi, a federal judge in Boise ruled Thursday.

The testimony and expertise from one proposed expert was unreliable, U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill found, and the qualifications and testimony of the second were irrelevant, at least at this point.

Steele, a self-described “attorney for the damned” who’s represented clients including the Aryan Nations, goes to trial on Tuesday on four felony charges related to an alleged murder-for-hire plot to kill his wife and mother-in-law; he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Cyndi Steele’s lawyer, Wesley Hoyt, is the one who contacted the proposed experts and sent them the FBI tapes. “Mrs. Steele believes that the tapes were manipulated,” he said after the judge’s ruling Thursday. “The victim is totally supporting the accused. She believes in his innocence.”

Read the rest of Betsy Z. Russell's story here.

Past coverage:

April 19: Evidence hearing set for Edgar Steele

April 13: Audio experts to testify at Steele trial

Steele’s lawyers hint at defense plan

Two private defense attorneys representing accused North Idaho lawyer Edgar Steele said in documents filed this week that they intend to “introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect.”

That disease or defect has “bearing on (Steele's) guilt or his lack of a knowing or intentional mental state,” according to the document, filed Monday by Steele's attorneys, Robert T. McAllister, of Denver, and Gary Amendola, of Coeur d'Alene.

The document offers a glimpse at a possible defense strategy for Steele, who is accused of hiring a hitman turned FBI informant to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele, and her mother.

Steele faces decades in prison under federal charges that allege he hired a man who affixed a pipe bomb under his wife's SUV.

Prosecutors say they have tape recordings of Steele talking about the plot with the would-be hitman, Larry Fairfax. In one recording, Steele tells Fairfax “to make sure that they were dead after the accident because Edgar Steele did not want to take care of a paraplegic” according to an affidavit prepared by the FBI.

Wesley Hoyt, a lawyer representing Cyndi Steele, has said the federal government is capable of manufacturing Edgar Steele's voice on those tapes. Cyndi Steele is adamant that her husband is innocent and visits him at the Spokane County Jail on a weekly basis.

Steele had been represented by Roger Peven, executive director of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho, but U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill approved Steele's request for new counsel during a closed hearing Monday in Coeur d'Alene.

Amendola is a longtime Coeur d'Alene defense attorney who's handled many high-profile cases.

McAllister does not have a license to practice law in Idaho but is licensed in Colorado. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago and Denver from 1976 to 1983 and has been in private practice since.

Edgar Steele seeks new defense lawyer

Edgar Steele is set to ask for a new attorney in his murder-for-hire case.

Longtime Denver defense lawyer Robert T. McAllister said a hearing will take place Monday morning in Coeur d'Alene.

 “I am not Mr. Steele's attorney of record at this point in time, but I have been asked to represent him,” McAllister said. “If the court permits me to enter as his attorney, I intend to do so.”

Steele, an anti-Semitic North Idaho lawyer who describes himself as the “attorney for the damned,” currently is represented by Roger Peven, executive director of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho.

Peven was not available for comment.

Steele (pictured above) has been in the Spokane County Jail since last summer, accused of hiring a hitman to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele. Prosecutors say the alleged hitman, Larry Fairfax, told the FBI of the plot and recorded Steele discussing the plan. 

Fairfax was arrested a couple days after Steele when auto shop workers discovered a pipe bomb under Cyndi Steele's car. Fairfax said he didn't tell the FBI about the device (pictured) because he thought it was no longer on the vehicle. He also said he'd rigged it so it wouldn't explode but pleaded guilty in October to two federal weapons charges related to the bomb.

He was to be sentenced on Monday, but that hearing has been delayed until after Fairfax's testified at Steele's trial. Steele's trial is set to begin March 7. Fairfax's new sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 16. 

Steele faces decades in prison under charges of use of interstate commerce to commission murder for hire, tampering with a victim, use of explosive material to commit a federal felony and possession of a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence.

Cyndi Steele denies the charges and is critical of prosecutors' treatment of Fairfax. She said Fairfax set up her husband to try to cover up his theft of silver coins. Prosecutors say Steele gave those coins to Fairfax as a down payment in the murder plot.

Cyndi Steele is represented by Colorado and Idaho lawyer Wesley Hoyt, who said McAllister is prepared to go to trial in March, but there are “conditions that might dictate otherwise.”

Both lawyers will be at the federal courthouse in Coeur d'Alene Monday morning.

“It's going to be a very, very interesting time,” Hoyt said.

Plea hearing today in murder-for-hire plot

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In an unsurprising move, U.S. Attorney’s Office is opposing Cyndi Steele’s motion to lift the no contact order between her and her husband, Edgar J. Steele. 

A judge is to hear the motion this morning in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. Also set for this morning is alleged hitman-turned-informant Larry Fairfax’s plea hearing.

Fairfax (pictured) is expected to plead guilty to two federal weapons charges in connection with a pipe bomb found under Cyndi Steele’s SUV on June 15, four days after Edgar Steele’s arrest. The FBI says Fairfax never told them about the bomb. Fairfax says he rigged it so that it couldn’t explode.

Cyndi Steele (pictured below) slammed the investigation into her husband at a press conference last month and said Fairfax is the real criminal.

She believes her husband is innocent and suggests tapes of him discussing plans to kill her and her mother with Fairfax were manufactured by the federal government to retaliate against Edgar Steele. Steele is a former lawyer for the Aryan Nations who describes himself as the “attorney for the damned.”

Cyndi Steele’s attorney, Wesley Hoyt, filed a motion last month to lift the no contact order between the Steeles. 

In a seven-page memorandum filed Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said Steele has provided no basis to lift the order. She included a transcript of a phone call Edgar Steele made to his wife form the Kootenai County Jail the weekend after his arrest.

In it, Steele urged her to tell authorities the voice on the recording does not belong to him.

“No matter what you hear, no matter what you think, no matter what you feel, you have to say the following: ‘No, that is not my husband’s voice,’” Steele said. “Then like a rhinoceros in the road, you have to stand your ground and refuse to say anything but that.”

The call led to a witness tampering charge against Edgar Steele.

Whelan also cited a birthday card that Steele addressed to his daughter but investigators say is clearly written to his wife. Read the motion here.

Steele’s public defender, Roger Peven, recently filed a motion requesting that federal authorities disclose information about other informants in the case. Read that motion here.

Cyndi Steele: Let me talk to Edgar

The alleged victim in a murder for hire plot is trying to get rid of the no contact order between herself and the suspect, who is also her husband. 

Through her lawyer, Wesley Hoyt, Cyndi Steele filed a motion Monday to vacate the no contact order. A hearing is set for Oct. 7, the same day Larry Fairfax, the alleged hitman turned FBI informant, is to plead guilty and be sentenced on two federal weapons charges. (Hoyt and Steele are pictured above at a press conference Sept. 20.)

Cyndi Steele is objecting to Fairfax’s plea, saying he’s the real mastermind of the murder plot, not her husband, Edgar Steele (right).

In a 13-page motion, Hoyt alleges FBI Special Agent Mike Sotka improperly influenced Cyndi Steele’s perception of the case. Hoyt argues phone calls between the Steeles don’t influence Cyndi Steele’s perception “nor will any future communications with her husband have any influence on her testimony,” according to the motion.

Cyndi Steele “evaluates information independently based on her own perceptions and refused to be influenced by others such as her husband or S.A. Sotka,” the motion reads.

The couple relies on each other for financial advice, and Edgar Steel has extensive knowledge of the family’s websites and business interests that are crucial to Cyndi Steele, according to the affidavit.

Read the entire motion here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 21: Cyndi Steele alleges conspiracy

Hoyt: Feds ‘can make you say anything’

“They can make you say anything,” Wesley Hoyt said of the federal government. “They can say you murdered a 100 nuns and set the Vatican on fire.”

Hoyt, a Colorado-based attorney representing Cyndi Steele pro bono, was talking about a key component of Edgar Steele’s defense theory - that the tapes depicting Steele plotting the murder of his wife and mother-in-law with Larry Fairfax aren’t authentic.

Hoyt, a former Idaho County prosecutor who writes a column for the Central Idaho Post, joined Cyndi Steele at a press conference at a Coeur d’Alene motel Monday, blasting the government for prosecuting Edgar Steele and calling on the media to investigate what they say is a corrupt case.

He said murder-for-hire is a charge used by federal prosecutors to target specific people.

Hoyt pointed to the case David Roland Hinkson, (left)a wealthy North Idaho businessman convicted in 2005 of plotting to kill federal officials involved in a separate, federal tax case against Hinkson’s water business.

Described as a “hard-core patriot” by his anti-government associates, Hinkson was convicted by a jury and is to be released from prison in 30 years.

Edgar Steele mentioned another murder-for-hire defendant when talking with his wife June 13: Matt Hale, (right) a neo-Nazi convicted of soliciting a federal judge’s murder in 2003. In the phone call, which led to a witness tampering charge against Steele, the North Idaho lawyer calls the recording of him speaking to Fairfax “a mission impossible world class level production.”

“This is coming from the very top level, and they are after me. They are not going to settle for anything less than putting me in prison for 20 or 25 years. I guarantee you that,” Edgar Steele said. “This is going to be just like the Matt Hale case- exactly - and he’s in there on 25 years right now.” (Federal prison records show Hale actually isn’t scheduled to be released until 2037.)

Hale solicited the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow after she enforced a court order that Hale’s racist group change its name after losing a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Both Hale and Hinkson were convicted by juries and are serving lengthy sentences in federal prisons.

Read my full story on Cyndi Steele’s press conference here.

Fairfax deal postponed; victim hires lawyer

A plea hearing for an alleged hitman-turned-informant has been postponed until October.

Larry A. Fairfax, 49, has agreed to plead guilty to two federal weapons charges connected to a pipe bomb placed under Cyndi Steele’s car as part of a murder plot the FBI says was hatched by her husband, former Aryan Nations lawyer Edgar Steele.

But Fairfax was reluctant to admit on Tuesday that the device had the potential to explode, and a hearing scheduled for Thursday was postponed because of scheduling conflicts with the judge, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan.

Cyndi Steele has hired a lawyer and filed a 16-page affidavit objecting to the proposed plea deal, alleging her rights as a victim have been violated. Fairfax’s new hearing is set for Oct. 7. Steele’s lawyer is Wesley Hoyt, who unsuccessfully defended a wealthy North Idaho businessman convicted in 2005. of plotting to kill federal officials.

 At the time, Hoyt had said the case against David Roland Hinkson, described as a “hard-core patriot” by his anti-government associates, was brought by witnesses who were seeking to take over Hinkson’s business or wanted large amounts of money from him.

Hinkson (pictured) was convicted of soliciting the murders of U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy D. Cook, and Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Steven M. Hines.

All three had been involved in a separate, federal tax case against Hinkson’s water business. None of the officials was harmed.

Hinkson is imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colo., and is to be released in 30 years.

Hoyt, former prosecuting attorney for Idaho County, is a member of Robert J. Hopp and Associates and is licensed to practice in Colorado and Idaho, according to his website.

Past coverage of the Hinkson case: 

Jan. 29, 2005: North Idaho businessman convicted in murder plot

July 2, 2004: Trial set in alleged plot to kill officials

June 30, 2004: Convicted tax evader charged in murder plot

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