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Trial begins in assault of ranger

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Associated Press
Published:
SPOKANE — Trial is under way in the case of a Kettle Falls man charged with assaulting a National Park Service ranger in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area.
The incident included the wounding of a bystander by a park ranger.
The Spokesman-Review reported a federal court jury was selected Tuesday to hear the case of Michael Sublie, who was arrested in September at the Kettle River Campground.
Park Service rangers are expected to testify that Sublie was drunk and disobeyed requests to turn down loud music before shoving a ranger off a ramp. Sublie contends one of the rangers boarded his boat without permission and that no physical contact occurred.
Ranger Matt Phillipson opened fire on the boat after prosecutors say Sublie and his friends swore at rangers and refused to comply with commands. One man was wounded.
Defense attorney Roger Peven said the shot was taken in spite of Sublie’s cooperation.
“He’d never been told to do anything he didn’t do,” Peven said in his opening statement Tuesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush, who had asked Peven and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tyler Tornabene to resolve the case before trial, admonished both attorneys about their long opening statements. The attorneys disagreed in those statements about whether Sublie had been drinking before the confrontation, which eyewitnesses would testify and whether music was playing at the time Phillipson and his partner, Joshua Wentz, approached.
Tornabene said the shot that hit Casey Hartinger could be attributed to a “chaotic scene.” Jurors must focus on the alleged conduct that led to the shot and prompted the charges, he said. Hartinger is expected to testify.
The shooting was “the tragic incident that occurred after the defendant shoved Ranger Wentz,” Tornabene said.
Peven, the defense attorney, said eyewitnesses would testify that they couldn’t see if the shove occurred.
The trial is expected to last several days.
Sublie is charged with assault of a federal agent and could face up to a year in prison.

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