Trial postponed for Idaho sheriff accused of threatening religious group, after lawyer withdraws

Sheriff Craig Rowland sits with his defense attorney Justin Olesen during a preliminary hearing March 2. A trial due to begin next week for the Bingham County Sheriff has been canceled after the defense attorney’s request to withdraw was approved. (Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com)

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BLACKFOOT – A trial due to begin next week for the Bingham County Sheriff has been released after defense attorney’s request to withdraw of the case was approved.

Jury proceedings for Sheriff Craig Rowland were scheduled to begin on Monday, July 25, but the trial has now been called off. At a hearing on Friday, defense attorney Justin Olesen’s motion to withdraw was approved by District Judge Stephen Dunn.

In the motion, Oleson cites a “breakdown in communication between counsel and the defendant” and thus says he is unable to properly prepare for trial.

“The defendant asserted that counsel was ineffective,” the motion concludes.

Rowland must now retain a new attorney by Friday.

The sheriff faces felonies for aggravated and aggravated assault, as well as a misdemeanor charge for exposing a weapon. The charges stem from an incident at his home last November when police said he pointed a gun at a vehicle carrying a group of church youths and their adult leader after leaving a ‘grateful turkey’ on his door.

Rowland is accused of pulling the woman by the hair and putting a gun to her head. She told investigators he said he could shoot her and she had to “get the (expletive) out of here,” police said.

Several officials have called on the sheriff to resign, but he has remained in office since the incident and refuses to resign.

A status conference is scheduled for July 26, when Dunn will determine the next steps and timeline for the case.

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