From the March 2000 Idaho Observer:


FBI opens investigation into Prewitt case

Local authorities refuse to comply with public disclosure requests

BOISE -- Rex Prewitt received an unexpected visit from the FBI March 20, 2000. The FBI is apparently conducting an investigation into the January 26, 1999 shooting of the 42-year old Sandpoint man and his subsequent conviction for aggravated assault of a police officer. Idaho District 1 Judge James Michaud sentenced Prewitt to serve 7-10 years in prison for being shot by police after being awakened in the middle of the night as a suspect in an attempted burglary.

The FBI has known about the Prewitt case for several months and may be ready to take possession of the evidence and have it properly tested.

Prewitt's wife has been appealing to local authorities for copies of documents to help prove her husband's innocence. Sandpoint City Attorney Wes Somerton, who has forwarded a few enlightening documents upon request, now claims that he is not obligated to keep sending multiple copies of documents to her and that many of the things she is asking for have already been given to her attorney. “If these documents have been given to our attorney (former Bonner County Prosecutor Tevis Hull), and Tevis has given me everything in Rael's (Prewitt's) file, and I don't have them, then where are they?" Mrs. Prewitt asked.

Mrs. Prewitt has never given up hope that at least one member of the Sandpoint Police Department or the Bonner County Sheriff's Department will be honest and tell the truth about what happened that night.

The evidence shows that Prewitt was asleep on his couch at 11:30 p.m. when his dogs started barking and, when he opened the door to look outside, he was blinded by a flashlight in his face. Prewitt was shot through the left hand and right shoulder -- all because deputies Eric Skinner and Bill Tilson had determined that Prewitt was a suspect in an attempted burglary (for which charges have never been filed).

Deputies claim that there were no barking dogs and that the house was lit by a porchlight, claims that are inconsistent with witness testimony and common sense because the Prewitt's dogs bark at everything.

The deputies also claim that Prewitt rushed out of the house pointing an unloaded .38 Smith & Wesson and shots were fired in self defense.

“That is not what happened. We have been able to reconstruct the entire chain of events from the evidence -- and from the lack of evidence,” commented Mrs. Prewitt.

It appears that there was never a fingerprint analysis done on the .38, nor was it tested for anything else. Mrs. Prewitt believes that if the FBI analyzes the gun, and photos such as the one pictured, it will determine that the (unloaded) gun Skinner and Tilson claim Prewitt burst out of the home holding in both bare hands will have no fingerprints on it at all. She also believes that the gun has blood spattered on it, but it wasn't smeared. Mrs Prewitt and a growing body of people believe that the gun, which belonged to the Prewitts, was planted at the scene and used to justify the actions of police who accidently shot an innocent man.

Mrs. Prewitt has also requested documents from Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson. Robinson refuses to provide Mrs. Prewitt with any information and believes that he is not obligated by the state's public disclosure laws to provide her with copies of public documents he holds in the public trust.

Robinson prosecuted Prewitt based upon the testimony of Skinner and Tilson and the fact that, as established by blood alcohol levels, Prewitt was extremely drunk when police knocked politely at the door and, therefore, he couldn't possibly be counted on to remember exactly what happened.

Robinson informed the court at sentencing that the original BAC was not accurate and that Prewitt had considerably less alcohol in his system than the court was originally led to believe -- an amount that was consistent with Prewitt's claim that he simply had a couple of drinks before he went to sleep.