UNITED STATES

Idaho inmate who escaped during hospital ambush faces court hearing

Apr 8, 2024, 12:30 PM

A police vehicle is parked outside Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, on Wedn...

A police vehicle is parked outside Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. Three Idaho corrections officers were shot as a suspect staged a brazen attack to break Skylar Meade, a prison inmate out of the Boise hospital overnight. Two of the officers were shot by the suspect early Wednesday. The third was shot and wounded by a police officer when police mistook the correctional officer for the suspect. (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman via AP)

(Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman via AP)

An Idaho white supremacist prison gang member accused of escaping from a Boise hospital during an ambush that left three corrections officers with gunshot wounds is now due to have a court hearing Monday afternoon.

Skylar Meade was initially scheduled to face a preliminary hearing Monday morning, as were two other defendants in the case: Nicholas Umphenour, who police say opened fire on corrections officers transporting Meade from the hospital last month, and Tia Garcia, who is accused of having provided the car the pair used to escape.

Related: Idaho prison gang member and accomplice in custody after ambush

Umphenour and Garcia appeared by video link from jail, and both agreed to have their preliminary hearings delayed until April 29. Meade — who had previously agreed to the delay as well — changed his mind and demanded that his preliminary hearing be held Monday.

Deputy Ada County prosecutor Brett Judd said the state wasn’t immediately ready to proceed, but would try to be ready for a 1:30 p.m. hearing set by Magistrate Judge Abraham Wingrove. If the state is not ready, Wingrove said he would dismiss the charges, though the state could re-file them. Meade would remain in prison, where is he serving a 20-year term.

The attack on the corrections officers came just after 2 a.m. on March 20 in the ambulance bay of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. Meade was brought to the hospital earlier in the night because he injured himself, officials said, but he refused treatment upon arrival.

Two corrections officers were wounded in the attack and a third was shot by responding police officers who mistook him for the gunman. All are expected to recover.

Meade and Umphenour, who are each being held on $2 million bail, also are suspected of killing two men during their 36 hours on the run — one in Clearwater County and one in Nez Perce County, both about a seven-hour drive north of where they were arrested in Twin Falls, Idaho. No charges have been filed in the deaths.

The homicide victims have been identified as James L. Mauney, 83, of Juliaetta, Idaho, who was reported missing when he failed to return from walking his dogs, and Gerald Don Henderson, 72, who was found dead outside his remote cabin near Orofino, Idaho.

Henderson had taken in Umphenour for about a month when he was in his late teens, according to authorities. Police said Umphenour and Meade stole Mauney’s minivan and used it to get to the Twin Falls area.

Idaho Department of Correction officials have said Meade and Umphenour are members of the Aryan Knights white supremacist prison gang, which federal prosecutors have described as a “scourge” in the state’s penitentiary system.

Meade, 31, was serving 20 years at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution in Kuna, south of Boise, for shooting at a sheriff’s sergeant during a chase. Umphenour was released from the same lockup in January after serving time for theft and gun convictions.

The two were at times housed together and had mutual friends in and out of prison, officials said. Meade recently had been held in solitary confinement because officials deemed him a security risk.

One other person has been charged in connection with the escape: Tonia Huber, who was driving the truck Meade was in when he was arrested, according to investigators. Huber has been charged with harboring a fugitive, eluding police and drug possession.
___
Thiessen reported from Anchorage, Alaska.

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Idaho inmate who escaped during hospital ambush faces court hearing