By Debbie Bryce, For the Journal
POCATELLO ‚ÄĒ A federal jury returned a guilty verdict Tuesday in the murder case against Anthony Ish of Fort Hall.
Ish, 33, was found guilty of second-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon for the shooting death of Darrell Auck in 2014.
Auck was killed during a birthday party that was hosted by Ish and held at a residence on East Agency Road that was owned by his grandmother, Bonnie Ish.
Blackfoot Attorney Jeremy D. Brown represented Ish during the federal trial, which lasted six days.
Brown recalled several law enforcement officials during the defense‚Äôs case on Tuesday.
Fort Hall patrol officer Samantha Crow testified that she was one of the first officers at the scene in the early morning hours of Oct. 15, 2014.
Crow said that officers found blood on the lawn and on rocks and leaves under a Ford pickup in the driveway of the residence where the shooting occurred.
Fort Hall detectives Joe Roberts and Todd Tendoy both told jurors that they contacted Ish family members and read them a resolution drafted by the Fort Hall Business Council that suspended all tribal benefits to adult members of the Ish family pending the recovery of Auck‚Äôs body.
Both detectives testified that the decision to approve the resolution came from the Fort Hall Business Council, the governing authority for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
‚ÄúThe purpose was to find the body of Darrell Auck and return that body to the family,‚ÄĚ Roberts said.
Tendoy said statements made by Ish family members and occupants at the trailer house where Auck was killed contradicted eyewitness accounts in the case.
He said that during an interview with Frank Ish‚Äôs girlfriend, Cecyle Perez, he told Perez that when the federal case was closed, tribal officials would want to know who cooperated during the investigation. The detective said he told Perez that she could also be facing federal charges.
Last week, three jailhouse informants testified that Ish had confessed to shooting Auck. One informant, Jay Wesley Cates, said Ish had asked him to move the body from a buried location to a canal.
Brown called psychiatric nurse practitioner Ashely Croft to the stand in an attempt to impeach Cates‚Äô testimony during the fourth day of the trial.
Croft said during an assessment interview with Cates, he told her that the federal government believed that he was involved in the Auck killing, but that they did not know the full extent of his role.
Croft testified that Cates told her that he had disposed of Auck‚Äôs body and the murder weapon.
During the first two days of testimony in the federal murder case, four witnesses told jurors that they saw Ish shoot Auck three times during the birthday party. Ish‚Äôs uncle, Frank Ish, told the jury that he saw Anthony Ish drag the body behind the trailer and load it in a pickup truck. Frank Ish said his nephew returned about 30 minutes later and was looking for a shovel.
In his closing statements on Tuesday, Brown told jurors that witnesses testified that it was another guest, Steven Pongah, who had a problem with Auck being at the party, and that when a blue bandana that Auck was wearing became an issue, it was Anthony Ish who traded the blue bandana for a white one.
‚ÄúAnthony defused the situation by providing the white bandana,‚ÄĚ Brown said.
Brown also pointed to testimony from Auck‚Äôs family members who stated that the victim lived a very transient lifestyle, and it was not unusual for him to be out of contact for periods of time.
Brown said eyewitness Travis Faulkner told police that he did not see Ish in possession of the gun prior to the shooting, but stated that he saw the gun flash when it was fired.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Jack Haycock admitted that there were inconsistencies in the eyewitness testimony, but Haycock told jurors that the four witnesses had been through a traumatic event and they were scared.
‚ÄúBut there was no question, all four (witnesses) testified that Anthony Ish shot Darrell Auck,‚ÄĚ Haycock said.
Haycock said that two of the jail informants would receive reductions in their sentence in exchange for their testimony in the case. He said witnesses Alyssa Timbana and Frank Ish would also receive reduced sentences.
‚ÄúThese are the people that (Anthony Ish) decided to talk to,‚ÄĚ Haycock said. ‚Äú(Anthony Ish) provided pieces of the story to each witness.‚ÄĚ
In terms of forensic evidence, DNA experts said last week that a spot of blood found on Anthony Ish was determined to be from Auck.
The jury, which consisted of nine men and three women, deliberated for about one hour before returning the verdict.
Sentencing in the case is set for May 10.
Haycock said a pre-sentence report will be compiled and reviewed by the U.S. Court and the victim‚Äôs family will have an opportunity to make a statement at that time.
Anthony Ish remains incarnated at the Bannock County Jail.