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1:38 PM Mon, Oct. 22nd

Suspect in bridge closure has motion to remand case to grand jury denied

Matthew Phillip Wright

Matthew Phillip Wright

The motion of Matthew Phillip Wright, the 30-year-old Henderson, Nevada man charged with blocking Pat Tillman Bridge with an armored car in June, to have his case remanded back to the grand jury was denied by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Billy Sipe on Tuesday.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, troopers responded to a call of an armed suspect, later identified as Wright, in an armored vehicle blocking U.S. 93 at the Pat Tillman Bridge at around noon June 15.

In June, Mohave County grand jurors indicted Wright on felony counts of terrorism, aggravated assault, a Class 2 felony misconduct involving weapons, a Class 6 felony of misconduct involving weapons and unlawful flight from a pursuing law enforcement vehicle.

But Wright’s attorney, Ira Shiflett, said there are three components of the indictment proceeding that should have resulted in the case going back to the grand jury. Shiflett told the judge that one of the grand jurors identified themselves as a possible witness to the alleged events of the day.

But prosecuting attorney Bob Moon said the individual was almost a witness, which is not the same as being a witness.

“And that’s what the one grand juror said, is ‘If I had been 10 minutes later leaving home, I might have been there when it happened.’ She obviously did not see anything,” Moon said. “She was just maybe a little bit startled by how close she had come to being there.”

Shiflett also pointed to confusion in reference to the number of people who had reported to law enforcement that they saw Wright in possession of a gun while on the bridge June 15.

The testimony of Detective Kyle Creager, Arizona Department of Public Safety, to the grand jury was called into question by Shiflett.

“To me, the grand jury transcript reads that Detective Creager reported to the grand jury that there was multiple witnesses seeing (Wright) hold the gun,” he said. “His testimony today is somewhat different than that, that he thought he was answering another question. But I think that the transcript still shows that the grand jury interpreted that to mean multiple witnesses, even though there were not.”

In reference to multiple witnesses, Creager testified Tuesday that he believed he was answering the question of how many 911 calls were reported rather than the number of people who reported seeing Wright with a gun. To his knowledge, there were multiple 911 reports but only one witness who said they saw Wright with a gun.

The judge said Creager was not misleading the grand jury or providing them with false information, but rather thought he was answering a different question.

Shiflett also pointed to eyewitness testimony referenced by Creager during grand jury proceedings. The witness said they saw a gun pointed out the window of the armored car. But windows in the armored car were bulletproof and could not be rolled down, Shiflett said.

However, the prosecution argued there was a gun port directly underneath the window with an opening large enough to put a weapon through. Moon said either way, whether the firearm was put through the gun port or pointed through the window, a witness accurately described the firearm. He also noted a firearm could be pointed out a window without being pushed through the window.

“Either she saw the gun in his hands in the truck on the bridge, or she’s clairvoyant or just a really good guesser, because they found that gun a short time after she told them that that’s what she had seen,” Moon said.

Sipe said Creager told the grand jury what was reported to him by the witness, and that it was not the detective’s duty to cross examine witness testimony. He said if anything, the accuracy of testimony would be addressed during trial.

Sipe found that none of the arguments brought by the defense warranted the case to be remanded to the grand jury, and denied the motion. Matthew Phillip Wright will be back in court for a pretrial conference at 10 a.m. Oct. 22.