Charge looms in Jayne case

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SANDPOINT — A criminal charge against an Idaho State Police trooper accused of illegally killing a moose out of season is expected to be filed in the next couple of weeks, according to a special prosecutor handling the matter.

It still remains unclear what offense Cpl. Jeff Jayne will be charged with and whether it will be prosecuted at the felony or misdemeanor level, however.

Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson declined to divulge those particulars until the case is filed in 1st District Court.

“There will be a detailed affidavit summarizing the evidence from the investigation and all that is coming together right now,” said Thompson.

The allegations against the trooper surfaced in late September, after Jayne reportedly took a bull’s head and cape to a taxidermist to be mounted. Jayne conceded in a statement to The Daily Bee that he made a mistake by incorrectly recalling the hunting season dates. He also acknowledged the judicial and public scrutiny he was in for.

“I have worked very hard to achieve accountability both in my personal and professional life. This situation is no different,” the statement read in part.

The case has had a polarizing effect in the community.

Some contend Jayne is a dedicated law officer who made an honest mistake, while others view him as an overzealous trooper who should lose his job.

The case remains the subject of spirited debate in online forums and restaurants.

Thompson has also heard from those with passionate feelings on the matter during the nearly five months that have elapsed since allegations came to light.

“Frankly, one of things that has slowed this down is the various competing interests outside of Mr. Jayne and his attorney who want to express their sometimes very strongly held feelings on both sides of the issue,” he said.

Thompson said his office has worked to stay distanced from the debate and “handle the case decisions without regard to who the person is or the community pressure.”

Thompson was appointed to prosecute the case because Jayne’s patrol beat covers Bonner County and the prosecutor’s office here did not want there to be any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Although the charge will be filed in Bonner County, Thompson will seek to have the matter heard outside the 1st District because its judges also work closely with Jayne.

“They’re either going to be viewed as too lenient or too harsh, depending on who’s looking at it. It’s kind of a no-win situation for them,” said Thompson.

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