Firefighter assault case heads for second trial

The case of a McCleary firefighter charged with assault after drawing a gun during a fight with another firefighter will next week head to a second trial after a judge rejected a deal that would have resolved the case.

Robert Enriquez is charged with second-degree assault after an altercation last year during a heavy January snowstorm. Enriquez and another volunteer firefighter met at Beerbower Park to discuss their issues relating to a woman Enriquez was dating, the ex-wife of the other firefighter. The meeting turned physically aggressive, leading to Enriquez drawing a pistol.

The events leading up to Enriquez drawing the weapon are disputed, and the case was further confused by the revelation the arresting officer was, at that time, romantically involved with Enriquez’s estranged wife. The officer did not disclose the relationship at the time of Enriquez’s arrest.

A three-day trial was held in October, leading to a hung jury. After deliberating for more than three hours, eight of 12 jurors voted for a not guilty verdict.

Deputy Prosecutor Kraig Newman said he and John Henry Brown, Enriquez’s attorney, had struck an agreement after the first trial that would have put off a second trial for a period of time, leading to the dismissal of the charge if Enriquez met certain requirements. Judge Gordon Godfrey refused to sign it, and Newman said Monday they were expecting to head to trial Jan. 8.

Newman said it is uncommon but not unheard of for a judge to refuse to sign agreements like the one in this case. He declined to give his interpretation of Godfrey’s reasons for not signing, but said he had an understanding of what the judge hoped for in a resolution, and it wasn’t likely to happen without a trial.

In Newman’s declaration outlining the agreement, he notes that there are several items in the case that might muddy the waters and lead to another hung jury. In an email to The Daily World, Enriquez called the trial a waste of taxpayer money.