DEER LODGE — For a second time a district court judge has denied a request that Bruce Anderson — convicted of rape and other charges — be released on bail pending his sentencing.
Judge Ray Dayton on Tuesday in Deer Lodge district court, after receiving full disclosure regarding the motion, said, "The issue is that Bruce Anderson is the only person in the world who can do the work on the job up north (Malta). It is very important that he be able to do that for himself and his business associates."
The Deer Lodge courtroom was nearly filled with community members, and Dayton said he had received numerous letters in support of Anderson from business and personal friends saying "Bruce is not the kind of guy who would do anything like that," while others were less complimentary. Anderson runs an asphalt company in Deer Lodge.
Dayton explained this hearing was a different situation from one where an individual is charged and has a constitutional right to reasonable bail while awaiting trial. But that is not the case with Anderson, where a full jury, after full process of the law, on March 15 determined Anderson was guilty on three felony counts of burglary, sexual intercourse without consent, and sexual assault.
"We're preparing for a sentencing hearing, and this case was a heinous crime of rape with potential penalties for long incarceration. We are also a long way in pre-trial procedures in another case where Anderson is charged with a similar offense," the judge said.
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He explained there is a presumption of innocence in pre-trial, but consideration is given to the impact to family, friends, business associates, and the community at large. However, it would be extraordinary for any judge to allow release after a conviction, Dayton said.
Defense attorney John Edward Smith expressed appreciation to those who came to support Anderson and said the letters addressed the judge's concerns, but he admitted, "I knew when we came that I'd have an extraordinary uphill slog."
County Attorney Lewis Smith said that Anderson poses a great risk to flee if given the right to fly back and forth from Malta, especially when previously they were going to lock up the planes. He is also concerned about safety of the community and Anderson hurting others or himself, because in the past he has threatened to do so.
Dayton denied the post-conviction release saying, "A person with hopes, dreams, accomplishments, and irons in the fire add up to where motivation and risk of flight come from regardless of the support, heartfelt as it is."
He conceded his decision will be a hardship to others, saying, "Prison sentences are hard on mothers and a hardship for people who are affected; but, the defendant is responsible for that happening, and it is my constitutional duty to make a decision."