A Natrona County Circuit Court judge on Tuesday bound over for trial a Casper man who allegedly covered for another man who was the object of an armed standoff last week.

But not until after  Billy Martin's public defender poked a couple of holes in the testimony of the prosecution's witness during the preliminary hearing.

Martin, 32, is charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance for a third time and conviction of that would be a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

He's also charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact who "with intent to  hinder, delay or prevent discovery, detection, apprehension, prosecution, detention, conviction or punishment of another for the commission of a crime," according to the criminal information document.

During the preliminary hearing, Assistant District Attorney Blaine Nelson called Casper Police Officer Andrea Husted to testify about her investigation of Martin and his eventual arrest. Much of that information was contained in the affidavit supporting the charging documents.

Husted said she first became aware of Martin during when she was trying to find Joshua Crook, who was wanted for felony theft, a parole violation and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. In August, Crook shot at another man from a moving vehicle, according to the affidavit.

On Nov. 10, she contacted Martin who initially said he didn't know Crook, then said he knew Crook by the nickname "Bam," but didn't know where he was. She gave Martin her business card and asked him to call her if he had any information.

Officers surveilled two addresses where Crook was known to have been, and saw Martin coming and going from those places.

On Nov. 15, Husted interviewed Martin, who told her Crook had fled to Riverton.

That same day, a police officer attempted a traffic stop of a Ford Escort at CY Avenue and 13th Street, and identified Crook and a woman later determined to be Crook's girlfriend. The car was stolen in Gillette on Nov. 11. Crook fled and the car was ditched in an alley between East 10th and 12th street.

On the night of Nov. 15-16, a person named Austin London -- whose identity has yet to be determined -- rented a room for Crook and the woman at a local hotel, Huston said.

When reviewing surveillance video at the hotel, Husted determined that Martin had dropped off the couple at the hotel at 4:30 a.m. and picked them up about 10 a.m.

Later that day, Husted went to police headquarters to request a warrant to search a house in the 1500 block of Westridge Place.

Law enforcement officers surrounded the house, and five or six people walked outside, Husted said.

Crook was not among them.

An armed standoff ensued with officers surrounding the house and continued to about 9 p.m. when police determined that Crook was not inside. The police affidavit said "Crook was not ultimately located at the residence and it is believed he was able to escape prior to the officer's procurement of the search warrant."

Martin was among those who left the house, and he was carrying a black bag used for carrying computers.

Officers ordered him to put the bag down, the top was open and they could see a methamphetamine bong inside.

Husted obtained a warrant to search the bag, which contained the bong, methamphetamine paraphernalia, and 2.7 grams of meth, she said.

Martin was then arrested, charged with the possession and accessory counts, booked into the county jail and later bonded out.

Meanwhile, law enforcement searched the house and found methamphetamine and marijuana, and drug paraphernalia, Husted said.

After Nelson was done questioning Husted, Martin's Public Defender Joseph Cole took over.

Cole asked her who paid for the hotel room and she responded she didn't know.

He asked her how long it was from the time law enforcement determined Crook -- considered armed and dangerous -- was at the house on Westridge Place to when the search warrant was executed.

Husted responded, "hours passed."

Cole was incredulous at that answer.

He asked her how many people entered and exited the house and she responded "five or six."

Cole then asked Husted if the police department has a policy to track how many people entered a residence,

She responded that she wasn't sure.

Cole laughed at that response.

He then asked her about the bag with the methamphetamine bong.

Husted said that the bag and its contents were not taken into custody.

Cole joked that maybe the police didn't seize it so they could later bust somebody for drug possession in that same house.

In Nelson's closing statement, he told Christensen that the evidence supports the third-time meth conviction count and the accessory-after-the-fact count.

In Cole's closing statement, Cole pointed to the delay from the time that officers believed Crook was in the house to the time the search warrant was executed.

Likewise, police didn't think that the bag with the methamphetamine bong was significant enough to take into custody, he said.

They wasted hours of time, Cole said. "That delay is not attributable to Martin, that is on the Police Department."

Despite Cole's objections, Christensen said he found the state had presented enough probable cause evidence to bind the case over to Natrona County District Court for trial.

 

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