KINGMAN – Judge Billy Sipe increased the bond for 30-year-old Matthew Phillip Wright, the Henderson man who allegedly blocked traffic on the Pat Tillman Bridge in an armored car June 15, from $25,000 to $1 million Tuesday in Mohave County Superior Court.
The defendant and his attorneys, Ira Shiflett and Christopher Donis, were in court to argue their motion to re-determine release conditions for Wright. They said Wright’s aunt and uncle were willing to live with him and “make every effort to make sure he (Wright) attends all future hearings.”
Prosecutor James Schoppmann, filling in for Robert Moon, admitted photos to the court that showed the armored truck in which Wright allegedly barricaded himself on the bridge, as well as guns and ammunition he reportedly had in his possession at the time. He also said that there were at least 12 separate 911 callers.
“As to the issue of whether there are identified victims or not, the state would argue that all the people in and near this location depicted in the photograph, all the callers, all those in neighboring locations, all the officers that arrived and responded to this conduct, would definitely amount to victims regarding (to) terrorism,” Schoppmann said.
Wright was indicted by Mohave County grand jurors June 21 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.
Sipe explained that he would not lower the bond based on the serious charges Wright faces. In fact, he found the $25,000 bond to be “an extremely low bond in these types of cases.”
He explained that in approaching this case he thinks about the Las Vegas shooting, and school and workplace shootings. He said the only difference is that Wright did not discharge a weapon.
“This was just an unjustifiable and very dangerous situation the defendant put law enforcement and the community in by his alleged conduct in this case,” he said. “Again, I believe the bond in this case is too low. I have every intention of raising the bond.”
Having given notice to the defendant and his attorneys of his intent to raise the bond, Sipe asked Donis if he had any further argument against an increase in bond. Donis requested the hearing be continued to a later date so a written response could be submitted, a motion Sipe denied.
“Again, the defendant is charged with terrorism and is looking at a natural life sentence if he is convicted as charged, and I am gravely concerned with his conduct in the community,” Sipe later said.
He pointed to Wright having recently written letters to President Donald Trump, the Department of Public Safety, (Mohave County Sheriff) Doug Schuster, the Department of Justice, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security. He said after reading the letters, he is concerned about Wright’s mental stability.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Wright apologized to the president for the “disrespectful manner in which I have recently addressed you,” in the letter. He also referred to himself as a “humble Patriot,” the Review-Journal reported.
“He’s got some thoughts in his mind that I’m concerned he would act out on if he’s released from custody, and I believe he poses a substantial danger to the community if he’s released,” Sipe said.
He then ordered a secured appearance bond of $1 million dollars be set in Wright’s case. A case management conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 13.