BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KIFI) - Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland appeared in court Wednesday morning on aggravated assault and battery charges.
Wednesday's hearing in front of Judge Faren Eddins was about the conditions of release.
The state asked that Rowland's weapons be surrendered to the Idaho State Police, no contact orders be granted for three minor victims, and for the judge to require Rowland to take a prolonged leave of absence from work.
Judge Eddins ruled that the guns be turned over, and agreed to the no contact orders, however, he declined to order Rowland to take a prolonged leave.
"With regards to the request to require the defendant to remain on leave of absence while this case is pending, the court is going to deny that request," Eddins explained. "I said the court always weighs the fact that the defendant is presumed innocent and the defendant has a right to stay on a leave of absence if that's what he wants to do. He also has the right to work. That being said, if he is working, he will be required to abide by all of the conditions of release, including but not limited to that no-contact order, including, but not limited to not having access to any firearms."
Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland is scheduled to appear in a courtroom Wednesday morning on aggravated assault and battery charges.
The charges stem from an incident in which he allegedly pointed a gun at his neighbor, Chelsea Cox, who was with a church group of girls when delivering Thanksgiving cards to his home.
According to a court affidavit, seven girls had hand-traced and cut paper turkeys with messages of "why they were thankful for certain people." They would tape the turkey on the front door, ring the doorbell and run away before they were seen.
Cox dropped the girls off and parked at the end of the cul-de-sac, but says when the girls realized the sheriff was home, they ran away before trying again. Shortly after, Rowland said he heard his front screen door open and a knock. That's when he asked his wife to grab his gun and went outside.
Cox says as she drove away, the sheriff flagged her down with the gun in his other hand. She stopped the car and attempted to get out.
In the report, both the sheriff and Cox describe him pulling her out of the car by her hair and asking her "Who the 'f' are you and what are you doing here." That's when Cox identifies herself and tells him she is his neighbor who has lived next door to him for years.
Both accounts also describe the sheriff pointing a gun at Cox's head and Rowland saying he could shoot her.
Rowland's initial court appearance was moved from Dec 22nd to Dec. 29 when his lawyer asked for an in-court appearance instead of over Zoom.
His court hearing is set to begin at 10 a.m.
It's expected prosecutors will present evidence to Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins who will then determine whether there is enough to proceed with the case.
According to the affidavit, Rowland told investigators in an interview that he believed the people he saw could have been casing the neighborhood, and he said at no time was his finger on the trigger of his gun.
Rowland and his wife also told investigators, according to the affidavit, that they had received threats: a former inmate had a discussion with Rowland’s wife in a grocery store and Rowland had been the purported target of harassment by another local resident.