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Idaho trooper interviewed about fatal shooting

Sat., March 19, 2011

An Idaho State Patrol officer was interviewed last week about an officer-involved shooting that took place a month before, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department, which is overseeing the investigation.

ISP Cpl. Dan Howard shot and killed Christie O’Leary Little on Feb. 7, but for weeks declined to be interviewed by investigators. Last week, however, Howard “agreed to (the interview) and contacted us,” Lt. Lee Richardson of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department said Friday. The interview on March 8 lasted “a couple of hours,” he said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Maskell is investigating the shooting, during which Little’s husband, Mark Marion Maykopet, was wounded.

Maykopet has been charged with felony battery and eluding an ISP officer, but he likely will be extradited to Montana to face escape and probation-violation charges before he faces charges in Kootenai County.

That also gives the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department extra time to complete the investigation into Howard’s actions, said Art Verharen, a Kootenai County deputy prosecuting attorney. On Thursday, Verharen filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Maykopet associated with the Feb. 7 incident, with the intention of refiling them once the Montana charges are resolved and the sheriff’s investigation is complete.

“The decision to do this was based on consultation with law enforcement,” Verharen said. Maykopet “has until May to have his extradition issues worked out,” Verharen said.

Maykopet and his wife were fugitives from Montana when they led Howard on a high-speed chase in northern Kootenai County that ended with Maykopet ramming Howard’s patrol car, an ISP report said. Howard responded by firing on the vehicle.

Howard initially stopped the Jeep Cherokee for speeding and then was informed by dispatch that he had “initiated a high risk stop,” the ISP report said. When ISP Cpl. Sean Lind arrived as backup, Maykopet left the scene, initiating the chase.

Maykopet was wanted on a felony escape warrant out of Montana and also had convictions for car theft, drugs and issuing bad checks. Little had a felony warrant issued by the U.S. Marshals Service and was a person of interest in Maykopet’s escape, the ISP report said. Both had additional criminal records.

A search of the Jeep on Feb. 9 revealed two firearms on the floor. One, a fully automatic Master Piece Arms 9 mm (MAC-11 replica), included an empty 32-round magazine. The other, a .25-caliber Taurus pistol, included a magazine holding eight rounds, but the chamber was not loaded, the ISP report said.

The ISP contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for possible federal charges related to the firearms.

Maj. Ben Wolfinger of the Sheriff’s Department said Maskell’s investigation into Howard’s actions should be complete within two to three weeks, when laboratory results come back. They include results from the autopsy on Little, also known as Christie Ann O’Leary, and other physical evidence, including fingerprints.

The evidence will be turned over to Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh, who will decide whether Howard’s actions constituted justifiable homicide, Wolfinger said.

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