SANDPOINT — A Montana man implicated in a shooting that traumatized two Bonner County anglers and sent one of them to the hospital with a gunshot wound escaped further incarceration in the case partly due to his cooperation with authorities in the 2017 incident on the Priest River.
“It’s probably the biggest mistake of my life,” a remorseful Eric Rampton Wood said during his sentencing hearing in 1st District Court on Tuesday.
Wood, 53, was pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm due to a prior felony conviction, a felony, in addition to a misdemeanor charge of injuring another with a discharged firearm in connection with the shooting. Leo Michael Inwood, a 43-year-old from Priest River, was ultimately charged and convicted by a jury of evidence tampering with evidence by concealing a 12-gauge shotgun and a .357 magnum pistol used in the shooting.
The teens, both 13 at the time, were casting into the river when gunshots were fired in their direction from a waterfront home. The teens attempted to flee the fishing hole on a motorized scooter when the shooting subsided, but one of the teens was shot in the leg and the moped was damaged when the gunfire resumed, causing the teens to crash.
Wood cooperated with investigators and the successful prosecution of Inwood. Wood testified that he believed they were targeting a box top or sign in the brush and were unaware the teens were present.
“This is a case, quite frankly, of stupidity. You mix drinking and guns together and bad things happen,” Bonner County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank said during Woods sentencing hearing.
However, Greenbank said Wood was genuinely was remorseful and agreed to cooperate with the investigation while serving 192 days of pretrial incarceration.
Wood’s defense counsel, public defender Serra Woods, said her client was mortified by his involvement in the case and has been on the receiving end of threats due to his cooperation in the case.
“He’s punished himself as much as anyone could,” Woods said.
There was no victim-impact testimony during the hearing, although the court reviewed written statements prior to announcing the sentence.
Judge Barbara Buchanan imposed a two- to five-year suspended sentence with credit for time served.
“Mister Greenbank is correct that your testimony was crucial at the jury trial for the other co-defendent who wouldn’t take responsibility,” Buchanan said.
Wood, a Kalispell resident, was placed on probation for three years and ordered to pay nearly $1,000 in fines and costs. Restitution in the case is pending.
Inwood is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 25.
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.