A judge found the assault case against a Plummer man accused of shooting a neighbor was too weak to continue June 17.

Charges of aggravated assault were dropped against Randall Doyle after Judge Patrick McFadden determined the state had not made a sufficient case against him. He did not dismiss a second charge of illegal possession of a firearm, remanding the case to district court.

Doyle was arrested in November 2018 after shooting Colton Schell duringan altercation. However, both parties gave conflicting reports on what happened, with each blaming the other as the primary aggressor in the fight.

In sworn testimony during a preliminary hearing June 17, Schell said that he had been shooting his semi-automatic rifle at a designated range for most of the day, and had later traveled to an equipment shed near Randall Doyle’s residence. He said he fired a number of shots, at which time Doyle made contact with him.

Schell said Doyle was upset, and a fight broke out. Testimony after the incident by Schell said that Doyle shot him during that fight. However, court minutes do not show any testimony on the official record

Taking the stand under oath, Doyle confirmed that a fight broke out over Schell shooting in the area. However, he said that he realized the fight would lead nowhere, and retreated to his home. According to testimony by Deputy Daniel McHenry, Doyle said that Schell then tried to break into the residence, and he shot Schell once with a .357 magnum pistol. The deputy said he recovered said pistol, a revolver, with one round expended.

Doyle said he got the firearm from his grandfather, Mel Doyle. He admitted he was a felon, having been convicted on trafficking charges in 2002.

“This is an incident of stand your ground,” Defense Attorney Douglas Phelps said. “I don’t think the state has met its burden of proof.”

“The burden of proof at this point doesn’t have to be beyond reasonable doubt evidence; it’s just probable cause,” Benewah County Prosecutor Brian Thie responded in his closing statements.

Judge McFadden confirmed that the evidence requirements were not as strict as they would be in an trial setting; nevertheless, he found that the state’s evidence was not sufficient to move forward with aggravated battery charges. He did, however, decide that the state had met its burden of evidence on the felon in possession of a firearm charges, and advanced those charges to the district court for further proceedings.

At Doyle’s request, the judge also ordered a modification to the terms of his pretrial release. He will be permitted to return to his grandparents’ home in Plummer pending a trial date. The date of further proceedings have not been set.

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