One day after he turned himself in to face a murder charge, Kevin Harris posted $10,000 bail, walked out of the Boundary County Jail and headed home with his family.
A handcuffed but smiling Harris made his first court appearance Friday since the Boundary County prosecutor charged him with killing Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan at Ruby Ridge.
It’s a charge many people have criticized Prosecutor Denise Woodbury for filing, and one Harris’ attorney, David Nevin, is asking to have dismissed.
Three people were killed in the 1992 standoff between federal agents and white separatist Randy Weaver: Weaver’s wife, Vicki; his son, Sam; and Degan.
Harris, flanked by about 150 supporters, surrendered to authorities in Republic, Wash., Thursday afternoon when he learned of the warrant for his arrest.
An FBI spokeswoman said special agent Lon Horiuchi remains on the job, as a member of the Hostage Rescue Team. Woodbury charged Horiuchi with manslaughter for firing the shot that killed Vicki Weaver.
“There has been no change in his status,” the spokeswoman said.
The FBI has no standard policy that would require an agent to be suspended or placed on leave when charged with a felony. That’s handled on a case-by-case basis, the spokeswoman said.
Although he remains on the job, Horiuchi’s attorney, Adam S. Hoffinger, declined to reveal the agent’s location, “for security purposes.”
No date has been set for the agent to appear in court, Hoffinger said. And he’s not sure whether Horiuchi will appear to enter a plea.
A decision has not been made whether to request the case be moved to a federal court or to another county in Idaho, Hoffinger said.
About 15 friends and family members followed Harris into court Friday. He waved at his wife, Danielle, and his mother, and gave a grin to Sara and Rachel Weaver, Randy Weaver’s daughters, who sat in the front row of the courtroom. The supporters came with $5,000 in cash, hoping a judge would reduce Harris’ $500,000 bond so he could return to Republic where he works as a welder.
Nevin argued that Harris would not flee from authorities and requested he be released on a promise to appear at the next court hearing.
“He’s not going to run from this, he’s going to see it through,” Nevin told Judge Quentin Harden. “He had knowledge of the arrest warrant beforehand and didn’t run. His promise to appear should be enough.”
Woodbury didn’t argue with reducing bail and the judge set it at $10,000 in cash. Family members quickly went to a local bank to cash a $5,000 check, only to discover that no banks in Bonners Ferry had that much cash on hand. But the Kootenai Tribe’s casino had enough cash and accepted the check.
Within the next two weeks, Nevin will ask that the murder charge be dismissed. Harris and Weaver were found innocent of murder and conspiracy charges during a federal trial in Boise. Nevin says the county can’t try Harris again on the same murder charge.
According to Idaho law, Nevin said, if someone is convicted or acquitted in another state, territory or country they cannot be prosecuted again. He believes federal court is another territory.
The Idaho law is 133 years old and similar to laws in six other states, including Washington and California, Nevin said. But there are no cases in Idaho where the law has been tested.
“If he (the judge) denies my motion to dismiss I certainly will take the issue all the way to the Supreme Court,” he said. “After federal prosecution, state prosecution is barred.”
Nevin said cases Woodbury cited to justify the new charge, including the Rodney King trial, support his argument. The Los Angeles police officers in the King beating were tried first by the state, then by federal prosecutors, he said.
An arrest warrant was not issued for Horiuchi. He was sent a summons ordering the him to appear in court. It’s standard procedure to arrest people charged with murder, Woodbury said, answering criticism for having Harris arrested and not the agent.
Woodbury said she expected Horiuchi to to make a court appearance within 10 days.
“I anticipate Mr. Horiuchi will be cooperative as well,” she said.
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The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Kevin Keating Staff writer Staff writer Jim Camden contributed to this report.