Motion to dismiss either terrorism or misconduct involving weapons denied for accused bridge blocker
KINGMAN – Matthew Phillip Wright, who is accused of blocking Pat Tillman Bridge with an armored vehicle and firearms in June, had a motion to dismiss either the charged terrorism count or misconduct involving weapons count denied by Judge Billy Sipe on Monday.
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 Pat Tillman Bridge around noon June 15.
In June, Mohave County grand jurors indicted Wright, 31, 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.
Counsel for the defendant, Aaron Moskowitz, sought to have either Count 1, terrorism, or Count 3, misconduct involving weapons, dismissed based on double jeopardy and due process. He argued that both counts involved “identical elements that derive from the same incident and depend on the same proof,” according to court documents.
“We’re in a situation, here, where what makes them a single offense is that even the elements themselves are precisely the same,” Moskowitz told the judge. “In other words, the legal elements that the state would need to prove to prove terrorism in this context is the same thing that the state would need to prove in order to prove count 3’s terrorism based misconduct involving weapons …”
Prosecutor Bob Moon saw the matter differently.
“Terrorism requires the use of the weapon,” he said. “The misconduct involving weapons offense can be committed by simple possession or having control of a firearm to be used in furtherance of an act of terrorism.”
Judge Sipe denied the motion to dismiss one of the charges, but noted he would reevaluate the issue at the close of evidence and testimony.
“I believe these actually are different elements,” the judge said. “I believe a jury can make the determination that although the defendant possessed weapons, he didn’t use it in any way shape or form, and find him not guilty of terrorism because you cannot convict of terrorism by simply possessing or exercising control with a deadly weapon, you have to use it.”
However, Sipe said the misconduct involving weapons charge is different.
“You don’t have to use it with a misconduct involving weapons, you could simply possess it in furtherance of an act of terrorism,” he said.
Matthew Phillip Wright will be back in court at 8:30 a.m. April 30.