A judge has dismissed murder charges lodged against a former Bonners Ferry chiropractor stemming from the killing last year of another chiropractor in town, 45-year-old Brian Drake.
Daniel L. Moore was accused of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Drake, who was shot and killed March 12, 2020.
Jill Bolton, Moore’s attorney, filed the motion to dismiss after Kootenai County District Judge Barbara Buchanan found a confession obtained from Moore that led to his arrest in August was “the product of police coercion.” Buchanan ruled in February that the confession and all incriminating statements he made after an initial request for a lawyer were inadmissible in court.
Moore virtually appeared in court last week regarding the motion to dismiss. Bolton argued Idaho law allows defendants to challenge the sufficiency of evidence brought forward at a preliminary hearing. Part of the statute compels a district judge to dismiss a case if they find a magistrate judge “has held the defendant to answer without reasonable or probable cause.”
Buchanan sided with Bolton in her written ruling.
“Because this Court has found that Moore’s statements were involuntary and in violation of his right to an attorney, Moore’s incriminating statements were not admissible at his preliminary hearing,” Buchanan wrote Wednesday. “Therefore, there is no admissible evidence in the record to establish that Moore committed the crime for which he stands charged.”
Moore was previously released on $500,000 bond, which will be exonerated as part of the dismissal of his charges, Bolton said. He is living in Bonner County, where Bolton said he is looking forward to restoring his reputation.
“This is a good decision from the court. It’s based on the law and it’s well-supported by the law. It’s been a long time coming,” Bolton said. “We’re disappointed we had to wait so long and have to get a decision from the court instead of the state doing the right thing and going after the right person.”
Bolton said her client will continue to contest the wrongful death lawsuit filed against him by his Drake’s wife, Jennifer. He also plans to file a lawsuit against the State of Idaho and the counties involved with this case claiming wrongful charges.
“It’s a pretty big hurdle to get over when you’ve been wrongfully accused of murder, because people just don’t understand how that could happen,” Bolton said, “but it definitely happened in his case.”
Prosecutors could appeal the decision or try to re-file charges and assert to a magistrate judge that they have probable cause, Bolton said.
Boundary County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tevis Hull could not be immediately reached for comment. Representatives from the Bonners Ferry Police Department also could not be immediately reached.
The confession in question was yielded Aug. 27, the date of Moore’s arrest.
Prior, Moore was asked by law enforcement to go to the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office Annex for questioning. Investigators asked him to bring a small-caliber gun he’d bought for his wife – one they knew wasn’t the murder weapon, according to court records.
After handing it over, police took Moore to what they called “a secure area,” according to records. Law enforcement officers who interviewed Moore included Marty Ryan, assistant chief of the Bonners Ferry Police Department, and Idaho State Police Detective Sgt. Michael Van Leuven.
During the interview, Moore made an initial request for an attorney. At that point, Van Leuven and another ISP officer left the room, telling Moore they were “going to terminate the interview.”
Instead, Van Leuven, Ryan and other officers reviewed the interview and discussed Moore’s request over the next 45 minutes while Moore waited in the secure area. The interview continued, but Moore was not provided an attorney. Court records show he made several requests for a lawyer as Ryan appealed to him for a confession.
An hour and 40 minutes after the interview began, Moore confessed.
Idaho State Police responded to a request for comment from Van Leuven with a statement.
“The investigation involving the homicide of Brian Drake remains ongoing,” state police said. “The Idaho State Police is committed to respecting the rights of any accused or suspect, and to bringing justice to the victim, his family and community.”
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