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Judge won’t remand bridge blockade case back to grand jury

September 23, 2018

KINGMAN — A Superior Court judge on Tuesday denied a defense motion to send a terrorism case back to the grand jury.

Matthew Phillip Wright, 30, of Henderson, Nevada, is charged with terrorism, aggravated assault, unlawful flight from law enforcement and two counts of misconduct involving weapons. He is being held on a $1 million bond.

Wright is accused of blocking traffic June 15 on the southbound lanes of U.S. 93 with his armored truck on the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Bridge over the Colorado River at Hoover Dam.

Wright later drove the truck southbound on U.S. 93 into Arizona and, avoiding a road block, drove the truck onto an unpaved road. The truck finally stopped on the dirt road and Wright was arrested without incident.

Calling an Arizona Department of Public Safety detective to the stand, Wright’s attorney, Ira Shiflett, showed him photos of the truck in arguing that the bullet-proof window could not be rolled down. The detective also described a gun port in the door of the truck.

Shiflett said the detective’s testimony before the grand jury was misleading, believing that multiple witnesses saw Wright holding a gun when only one witness saw him point a gun out of the window.

The detective said there were four weapons in the truck including an AR-15 and a Glock pistol and about five to six magazines of 0.223-caliber ammunition. Each magazine held about 30 rounds.

Shiflett argued that one of the grand jurors happened to be in the vicinity of the June 15 incident and should have been excused from hearing the case.

Deputy Mohave County Attorney Bob Moon argued that the grand juror wasn’t at the scene that day and there was no rule to remove a juror.

Moon also argued that a witness saw Wright pointing the rifle at traffic and that rifle was found in the truck. The prosecutor said Shiflett was nitpicking details about how many witnesses saw the rifle and whether the rifle was pointing out of the gun port or the window.

Superior Court Commissioner Billy Sipe Jr. denied the motion to remand the case back to the grand jury, ruling that the grand juror in question was 10 minutes ahead of the incident and didn’t see anything.

Sipe also found that the detective testified before the grand jury in a fair manner and his testimony to the grand jury wasn’t an improper presentation. The judge set Wright’s next hearing for Oct. 22.

Wright faces natural life in prison, life in prison with a chance of parole after 25 years or 10 to 25 years in prison if he is convicted of the terrorism charge.

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