Man who allegedly opened fire during Old Town fracas will take case to trial

March 26, 2019

POCATELLO — A local man who faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly opening fire on two people during a fracas on West Center Street in 2017 is expected to take his case to trial in May following the Idaho Supreme Court’s recent decision to deny his pre-trial appeal motion.

Darin “D’Beau” Black, 48, of Pocatello, has been charged with two felonies — aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and an enhancement charge for using a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Black is charged for his alleged role in an altercation that involved five men attacking a couple in an alleyway in Old Town Pocatello near his skateboard shop on West Center Street in September 2017. The attack left two people stabbed and ended when Black allegedly opened fire on two of the five attackers.

In December, Black’s attorney, Bron Rammell of Pocatello, filed a motion to the Idaho Supreme Court requesting permission to file a pre-trial appeal that would ask the highest court in the state to revisit District Judge Robert C. Naftz’s earlier decision to deny dismissing the case without a trial.

The motion to dismiss that Naftz denied claimed Black acted in self-defense when he allegedly fired two shots at the five men attacking the couple near his business and asked the court to dismiss the charges against Black without a trial.

The basis of Rammell’s motion involved an ambiguous Idaho statute that prohibits the state from placing any person “in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for coming to the aid of another who he reasonably believes to be in imminent danger of or the victim of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, murder or other heinous crime.”

In essence, Rammell interpreted the statute to say that the courts, Naftz in this case, should be responsible for determining whether Black acted in self-defense, and if so, all related charges should be dismissed. However, Naftz ruled that it’s not the duty of the courts to decide if a person acted in self-defense, but rather a question that a jury should decide with instruction from the courts after a trial has concluded.

Nonetheless, Naftz allowed Rammell to file a request to appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court because it was the second time within a six-month period that Naftz faced a motion regarding the specific ambiguous self-defense statute.

In response to Rammel’s motion for permission to appeal, the Bannock County prosecutor handling the case, Ashley Graham, filed a motion that objected Rammell’s request.

The Idaho Supreme Court on February 26 denied Rammell permission to appeal the case after taking into consideration both motions. The court did not issue a memo or opinion in denying Rammell’s motion.

“The Supreme Court basically declined to take it and that is their prerogative,” Rammell said. “To me, that’s very disappointing.”

Rammell said he doesn’t know why the Supreme Court denied his motion for permission to appeal, but said the state argued that the motion should have been raised at the preliminary stages of Black’s case, adding that it is likely the Supreme Court agreed.

But Rammell said he was mostly disappointed the motion was denied because he anticipated the state would make such an argument and proactively included supporting case law from other jurisdictions that involved the question of self-defense statute interpretations during the preliminary stages of those cases.

“The Supreme Court decision doesn’t cite a single case or address a single argument that I raised,” Rammell said. “There was no legal analysis in the decision and I’m really disappointed.

“We have a law that requires action and nobody will touch it. What do you do at that point?”

Rammell said that in the event Black is convicted of the charges against him he can still file an appeal, but the decision of the courts to deny interpreting the self-defense statute beforehand is highly detrimental when it comes to receiving a favorable outcome.

Black’s case is scheduled for a jury trial in the Bannock County Courthouse in Pocatello on May 20.

If convicted of the charges against him, Black faces up to 20 years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.

“I plan to mount an aggressive defense on Black’s behalf,” Rammell said. “I’m sure that once the facts come out in this case, his innocence will be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”