SANDPOINT — The Idaho Court of Appeals is rejecting Randy Carl Eiland’s contention that he was denied a due process right to a fair trial on charges stemming from a brazen home-invasion and attack on a Sandpoint family.
A Bonner County jury convicted Eiland of battery with intent to commit a felony and burglary in connection with the October 2014 blitz in an occupied home in the Northshore housing development. Eiland allegedly smashed his way through a glass door at the back of the house, prompting a woman and her adult daughter to retreat upstairs. The family’s patriarch was sprayed with bear repellent at the top of the stairs and all three took refuge in a master bedroom.
A struggle ensued where the intruder tried to force his way into the bedroom while discharging the spray into the room, according to court documents.
Sandpoint Police officers located Eiland at an office building along U.S. Highway 2. Eiland smelled of bear spray and appeared to be suffering symptoms from exposure to the repellent. After his arrest, Eiland was later seen on store surveillance video purchasing the same type of bear spray used in the attack and cable tie fasteners.
Eiland was prosecuted as a persistent violator due to prior felony convictions, including one for first-degree murder in Washington state for shooting a movie theater manager to death during a botched robbery.
Eiland was granted four continuances prior to his 2015 trial to provide more time to prepare his case. Along the way, he was also granted a series of motions for public funds to arrange expert witness testimony and conduct additional investigation.
Eiland sought another continuance to allow for the analysis of forensic evidence and ongoing investigation. But 1st District Judge Barbara Buchanan denied the request, finding that Eiland had neglected to determine the expert witness’ availability to testify at trial.
Following his conviction, Buchanan imposed concurrent life sentences with a chance at parole after serving no less than 25 years. On appeal, Eiland argued he was deprived the assistance of the defense expert, which violated his right to a fair trial.
But the appeals court disagreed, according to an eight-page opinion released on Wednesday.
Appellate Judge Molly Huskey said the record showed the district court conditionally allowed funds to retain the expert and found that it was within Buchanan’s discretion to determine that two months was a sufficient amount of time for Eiland to determine through the expert whether he would be able to testify.
“It was also within the court’s discretion to determine that Eiland’s failure to secure the expert witness within the two-month time frame was not a compelling reason to continue the case. The trial court reached its decision by an exercise of reason,” Huskey wrote.
Fellow appeals judges David Gratton and John Melanson concurred with Huskey.
Eiland, 48, is imprisoned at the Idaho State Correctional Center in Kuna, according to IDOC’s website. He becomes eligible for parole in 2034.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.