IDAHO FALLS — The case of a woman charged with causing the inadvertent death of Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputy Wyatt Maser has been advanced to a higher court.
Jenna Holm, 35, appeared for the second part of her preliminary hearing Friday. She is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Bonneville County prosecutors allege Holm created a situation that led to Maser being hit by another deputy’s SUV, which killed him.
The first part of the hearing, held Wednesday, focused on the testimony of several witnesses. Friday’s hearing was spent questioning Idaho State Police detective Michael Cox, who investigated Maser’s death.
Defense Attorneys Rocky Wixom and Jordan Crane argued Holm was carrying a machete to protect herself in the rural area as she was alone after her car had broken down. Crane said she felt threatened and only briefly waved the weapon when the blinding lights of Maser’s SUV shone in her face.
The defense attorneys also questioned Cox about Sgt. Randy Flegel, the man driving the SUV that killed Maser on May 18.
Cox confirmed Flegel was never identified as a suspect during the investigation. Instead, Flegel was listed as the driver of the vehicle that hit and killed Maser, and Holm was listed as the suspect.
Cox testified he believed Flegel was not criminally responsible while Holm was.
Wixom and Crane maintained during the hearing that what happened was not the result of Holm’s behavior and said factors like Flegel’s speed played a role in the death.
“This was nothing more than a horrible accident, tragic accident,” Wixom said.
Deputy Prosecutor Adam Garvin disagree with the defense’s assessment. He argued Holm repeatedly ignored the orders of deputies during the incident, and that the machete presented a real danger to deputies.
Garvin reiterated Holm caused the situation that resulted in Maser’s death. Under Idaho law, you can be charged with involuntary manslaughter when a person dies while you are involved “in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate any unlawful act.”
Ultimately, Magistrate Judge Steven Gardner ruled that Garvin and co-counsel Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Russell Spencer presented enough probable cause to send the case to the District Court.
That means Holm will either plead guilty or not guilty at an arraignment. If Holm pleads not guilty, the case will go to trial. If she pleads guilty, sentencing will be scheduled.
Holm’s arraignment is scheduled for March 9 before District Judge Dane H. Watkins Jr. Her bail remains at $100,000.