DEER LODGE — A district court judge on Tuesday denied a request that Bruce Anderson — convicted of rape and other charges last week — be released on bail pending his sentencing.
For nearly two hours, Judge Ray Dayton heard testimony regarding Anderson’s flight risk, potential threat to society and to himself.
A jury of seven women and five men on March 15 issued a unanimous verdict finding Anderson guilty on three felony counts of burglary, sexual intercourse without consent and sexual assault.
Friends, employees and a business associate testified on Anderson’s behalf Tuesday. They said Anderson posed no flight threat, explaining that “he has no place to go” and everything he has is in Deer Lodge — home, business and real estate.
Ron Kelley, a banker, and Anderson have been longtime friends and business associates. Kelley owns four airplanes and Anderson knows how fly three of them, but primarily uses one. If Anderson were released on bond, Kelley said he would disable the plane, secure the keys and change the lock on the hangar.
All agreed Anderson’s business, Deer Lodge Asphalt, will fail if he is not there to manage it. The employees know various aspects of the business and the equipment, but it is Anderson who does the payroll, contract bidding, and knows how to run the new high-tech asphalt plant.
They also said he is not a danger to the community, adding that they had never seen Anderson do anything unkind to anyone.
Pat Dixon has worked part-time for Anderson since 1999, except for 18 months when he was deployed to Iraq. He said after returning home he had nowhere to go and Anderson took him into his home for a year and a half, until he was able to adjust to society and become a productive worker again.
Mike Grey praised Anderson for taking care of Grey’s sister-in-law, Cheryl, who lived with Anderson following her divorce. She suffered from ALS and Grey described the personal care Anderson provided as the disease progressed, adding that he even took her on a cruise because that is what she wanted to do.
Asked about Anderson ever threatening to fly the plane into a mountain or threatening to take his life, none said he had. However, after Anderson was arrested on the charges, Dixon took guns from the home and Kelley has them in a safe place.
Powell County attorney Lewis Smith asked each friend if they knew about an incident on June 8, 2003, when Anderson allegedly threatened to kill himself when his girlfriend said she was leaving. They said, “no.”
The law enforcement report from the June 8, 2003, incident, presented by Smith, stated that Anderson threatened to kill his girlfriend, her son and himself, if she left.
You have free articles remaining.
Sheriff Scott Howard was asked about his concerns if Anderson is released.
“I always have concerns when someone his age is convicted and faces a long sentence; he has nothing to lose. He has the connections and abilities to be a flight risk. A lot of equipment could be disposed of for cash and he can fly planes giving him the ability to leave the state and country.”
Howard said he thinks Anderson is also a danger to society, victims and witnesses in this trial and in another pending trial; Howard said he is always concerned about the defendant doing self-harm.
“The victim of the trial said she will flee if he is released,” Howard said. “The complainant in another trial is afraid for her safety and that of her family. Threats have been made in that matter.”
Smith presented a copy of a note left in the alleged victim’s vehicle that contains threats to her, her child, brother’s kids, parents, their business and rentals.
Howard said he tried to get DNA off the note, but it was too contaminated by the time he got it.
“When Anderson is in prison, he will not be able to run his business. People need to be working harder to get his affairs in order than getting him out on release,” Howard said.
Anderson’s lawyer, Karl Knuchel, asked Howard if there is technology to monitor Anderson on release, and if there were reports of his drinking, any altercation or contact with the victims while on bail previously. Howard said there is monitoring technology if ordered by the court and that he had no report of violations of conditions of release.
Judge Dayton said he understood the issue, but does not want future proceedings in this case complicated any further and is satisfied with the testimony presented by the defense and state.
“I never forecast any sentencing decision, but wait for the pre-sentence investigation,” he said.
Looking at Anderson, Dayton said, “You are in a lot of trouble and you know it."
“There is always a potential for flight and the seriousness of the crime is very important to the court,” Dayton said. “You have the means of flight more so than most individuals, and the dangerousness of evidence heard during testimony of guns and previous threats of self-harm and in a threatening note referring to Bruce Anderson and legal proceedings left in a victim’s car.”