Three-day trial ends in guilty verdict

Tyler Travis, 32, of Baker was found guilty on four separate charges in a jury trial, July 11-13, presided over by the Honorable Nickolas C. Murnion of the Montana Sixteenth Judicial District Court, Fallon County. The defendant was charged with one count of misdemeanor partner or family assault, one count misdemeanor disorderly conduct, one count felony assault with a weapon and one count felony criminal endangerment in January.

The jury comprised of seven men and five women sat late afternoon Tuesday to hear opening statements. Representing the State, Fallon County Attorney Darcy Wassmann stated that on January 15, at approximately 12:30 a.m. Officer Farrell responded to a verbal altercation in progress at 920 South 2nd Street East. The defendant’s wife, Jamie Travis, had called 911 requesting help. When Officer Farrell arrived, Mrs. Travis indicated that her husband had cooled down and went downstairs.

Attorney Wassmann continued that Officer Farrell stated he needed to speak to the defendant. Mrs. Travis told the defendant Officer Farrell needed to speak to him but she quickly ran off saying that the defendant had a gun. The officer gave the defendant multiple commands to show his hands and notified dispatch that the defendant had a gun.

Court documents state that the defendant emerged from the stairwell showing his hands but did not immediately comply when Officer Farrell ordered him to the ground. The defendant finally laid chest down on the ground and was kept in that position until Deputy Wells arrived to provide assistance.

The State provided that the defendant used abusive language towards the officers and other occupants of the house. The defendant continued his threatening behavior towards the officer by attempting to sic his dog on him and saying, “I’ll blow you away when I go downstairs.” Mrs. Travis stated several times that she called police because she was scared because he had a rifle. Officer Farrell spoke with Mrs. Travis regarding the incident and she indicated that the defendant had been drinking earlier in the evening.

Attorney Wassmann stated that evidence collected at the scene included a loaded AK-47 assault rifle and an AK-15 assault rifle. She closed her statement assuring the jury that the State would provide enough evidence to convict the defendant.

Attorney Tim Lohrmann, counsel for the defendant, claimed in his opening statement that the burden of proof for the State was high and could not be met since this case was about over zealous officers that misread a situation. He stated the defendant’s wife had called dispatch only because she was afraid her husband would harm himself, not because she was afraid for her or her children’s safety. After explaining in detail what burden of proof had to be made, Attorney Lohrmann closed his statement with the idea that a crime was not committed because there was no victim. The defendant’s wife was not a victim but instead was living a nightmare that law enforcement had created for her family.

The State called Mrs. Travis as the first witness. She testified that the officers had taken her words out of context and that she was not afraid for herself but since she had experienced suicide in her family she was worried the defendant would take his life. She also testified that her husband did have a gun. “When I told him the cops were there, why wouldn’t he want to end it all knowing he was going to be in trouble,” said the defendant’s wife.

Testimony began the next morning with defense’s cross of Mrs. Travis. Officer Farrell, Deputy Wells and former Dispatcher Lori Hall were also called to testify. The 911 call was played for the jury. Officer Farrell’s body camera footage was also presented in court. The State rested their case late that afternoon.

The defense rested Thursday morning without calling any witnesses. After only two hours of deliberation, the jury brought back a guilty verdict on four criminal charges.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 5. Travis is currently released on a $10,000 bond. He could be sentenced to the state prison for a term not to exceed 20 years or be fined $50,000, or both for assault with a weapon.

“I’m happy with the outcome of the trial,” said Police Chief Reddick. “It pleases me to see the confidence the community has in the officers based on their ability to handle situations that are volatile and dangerous.”