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Deputies capture suspect sought in alleged weekend assault
The suspect who allegedly threatened to shoot a woman, kill other unspecified persons, and then kill himself over the weekend made his initial appearance in Yuma Justice Court Tuesday afternoon.
According to Capt. Eben Bratcher, a spokesman for the Yuma County Sheriff's Office, the suspect, 23-year-old Gary Smith, was observed walking in the area of Yuma Justice Center, located at 250 W. 2nd St., at about 7 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“A prosecutor walking into the courthouse saw him in the area and called us,” Bratcher said.
Bratcher said deputies responded to the area in an attempt to locate Smith and found him at the Donovan Law Firm, 212 S. 2nd Ave., where he was taken into custody without incident. He was booked into the Yuma County jail on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of kidnapping, and influencing a witness' testimony.
Later the same afternoon, Smith was arraigned before Justice of the Peace Greg Stewart, who informed him that he would be returning to court at 1 p.m. on Thursday, at which time he would be told if prosecutors had filed a criminal complaint against him, charging him with any of the offenses.
“State prosecutors are going to have two days to review the case and we will see what they will decide with respect to formal charges,” Stewart said. “Certainly they will have the opportunity to review more information than that which has been provided to this court today.”
A victim's advocate from Amberly's Place also read a prepared statement to the court from the victim, who was present in the courtroom, asking the judge to set the highest possible cash bond for Smith, saying that she feared for her life.
“Gary dragged me out of my home and put a gun to my head, and made me beg for my life,” the advocate read. “He took me from my home and I really, truly believed I was going to die that day.”
During the hearing, attorney Conrad Mallek, who is from the Donovan Law Firm and is representing Smith, spoke to the court, arguing that law enforcement did not provide enough probable cause to indicate his client committed any of the offenses he is being held on.
“We think the police officers did a sloppy job on their factual basis for you to find probable cause on these offenses,” Donovan said. “They don't give you any particular facts on the probable cause statement. It's all conclusionary by the police officer.”
While Stewart agreed, saying that there certainly may be some issues with the probable cause on some of the offenses, he could not conclude that probable cause could not be found as to all the counts.
“Therefore, the determination by the court is that probable cause does exist with respect to arrest in this case,” Stewart said.
Stewart then ordered that Smith be held on $250,000 bond.
Sheriff's deputies began searching for Smith Saturday after he allegedly assaulted an individual known to him and forced the individual into his vehicle at about 11 a.m. in the 1100 block of South Palm Avenue. Smith was allegedly armed with a semiautomatic handgun and threatened to shoot the victim, kill other unspecified persons, and then kill himself.
The victim, whose identity was not disclosed by the sheriff's office, was able to escape and contacted deputies.
Bratcher said Smith, who was considered armed and dangerous, did not have a weapon in his possession Tuesday morning when he was arrested.
Smith's vehicle was later located by deputies Saturday in the 100 block of South 6th Avenue. Deputies, with the assistance of the Yuma Police Department and the Border Patrol, conducted a search of the surrounding area but were unable to locate him.
Bratcher said deputies are still attempting to locate the concerned citizen who assisted the victim of the assault, which was domestic violence-related, and asked that the citizen contact them.