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Men Arrested in Fatal Shootout Had Testified Against Spy

January 14, 1989

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) _ A man who tipped federal agents to the whereabouts in 1981 of an escaped spy has been charged with murder in the death of a U.S. Forest Service officer during a shootout near this northern Idaho town.

Joseph Pratt, 27, and his brother James, 29, surrendered to authorities shortly after Thursday’s gun battle in which Brent Jacobson was killed.

Authorities had tracked the men in rugged, snowy terrain for nearly a day after a botched house robbery Wednesday night.

Joseph Pratt received a reward for turning in Christopher Boyce, who had escaped from a California prison in 1980 and had been living in a remote area of northern Idaho near the Canadian border for 19 months. Boyce had been serving a 40-year sentence for his conviction in 1977 of selling CIA satellite information to the Soviets.

He was recaptured Aug. 21, 1981, in Port Angeles, Wash.

Boyce has been chronicled in two books by Robert Lindsey, ″The Falcon and the Snowman,″ which was made into a motion picture, and its sequel, ″The Flight of the Falcon.″

Joseph, James and a third brother, Brett Pratt, received immunity from prosecution for their testimony against Boyce at his 1982 trial on conspiracy and bank robbery charges.

The Pratts testified they had taken part in a series of robberies that Boyce masterminded in 1980 and 1981 in Washington, Idaho and Montana. Boyce pleaded guilty to 10 counts of conspiracy, bank robbery and firearms violations a week into the trial.

Joseph Pratt was charged Friday in Bonner County Magistrate Court with first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, robbery, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated assault. He was being held without bond in the Bonner County Jail.

James Pratt was under guard at Bonner General Hospital following surgery for a gunshot wound to his leg. Arraignment was scheduled Monday on the same charges as his brother, said Prosecutor Phil Robinson.

Police said Wednesday’s botched home robbery netted $12.

As officers arrived, the men sped away, firing several times at a pursuing vehicle. The gunmen abandoned their car after it ran into a snowbank, then fled on foot into the woods.

Officers from several agencies tracked the men Wednesday night, resuming the search at daybreak Thursday in knee-deep snow drifts, police said.

Bonner County Sheriff Chip Roos said Jacobson was killed just as tracking teams were being recalled because of darkness.

The gunmen apparently fled to a home about a mile away. There, about 1 1/2 hours later, a call was placed to the sheriff’s office, and one of the men said they were ready to surrender, Roos said.

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