Man accused of shooting local sheriff’s deputy to go on trial next week

April 17, 2019

BLACKFOOT — Juan Santos-Quintero, the 25-year-old Idaho Falls man charged with shooting a Bingham County Sheriff’s deputy last September, will go to trial on the charge next Tuesday as scheduled, but he will not be appearing before a jury.

Santos-Quintero came before 7th District Judge Darren Simpson Monday with his public defender Manuel Murdock and waived his right to a trial by jury on one count of aggravated battery of a police officer, two counts of aggravated assault of police officers, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Murdock said his client wishes to have a trial by bench, meaning his fate will be decided by the judge and not a jury.

In making certain Santos-Quintero understood what he was doing, Simpson asked “You understand you have the right to a jury trial?” and the defendant replied in the affirmative. “You understand the state has to prove its case, but they only have to convince me, not 12 people?” Simpson asked, and Santos-Quintero again answered “yes.”

Simpson then said Santos-Quintero’s trial date will remain the same — Tuesday, April 23 at 9 a.m. — and he was remanded to the custody of the Bingham County Sheriff in lieu of $1 million bail.

Santos-Quintero is charged with shooting Deputy Todd Howell the evening of Sept. 21, after he and other officers responded to a complaint that a man was driving down a road near Firth and firing a gun out of the car window.

The person making the 911 call followed the car and directed the responding officers to a residence in Firth. Howell was shot, allegedly by Santos-Quintero, as the people in the house were leaving as ordered by the officers.

Howell was struck in the side by a bullet, but was able to join two other officers in returning fire. The area was locked down and the Bonneville County SWAT team was called. Santos-Quintero surrendered two hours later.

Howell recovered from his wound and returned to work some five months later.