Monday, October 19, 2009

First preliminary hearing

Woman charged in NLV police standoff to stand trial

The case of a woman accused of holding North Las Vegas Police at bay during a June standoff will proceed to trial after a preliminary hearing today.

Carla Eagleton, 52, is charged with two counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of battery with a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon.

North Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Stephen Dahl sent the case to District Court and scheduled Eagleton’s arraignment for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 26. Defense attorney Ronald Paulson said Eagleton would plead not guilty and plans to go to trial.

After Eagleton was arrested in June, a North Las Vegas justice of the peace ordered she undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is competent to stand trial. Eagleton passed the evaluation.

At the preliminary hearing Friday, Eagleton appeared alongside Paulson and listened to testimony given by her husband, Kenneth McDede, and North Las Vegas police officers Jason Olson and John Thomason.

McDede said at about 9 p.m. on June 4, he and Eagleton had an argument that escalated to a physical altercation when Eagleton grabbed an aluminum bat. He said Eagleton began to chase him and swung the bat, trying to hit him. While running from Eagleton, McDede said he called 911 and ran out of the house.

He said he ran to a convenience store and waited for police to arrive. McDede said he met police at the house in the 3500 block of Coleman Street and explained what happened. He said he saw Eagleton drive off with his 10-year-old grandson before police arrived.

After filing a domestic battery report, officers and McDede left the residence, McDede said during cross-examination. He went to work and returned home at about 5 a.m. He parked across the street and kept receiving phone calls from Eagleton that said, “Don’t come home. I’ll shoot intruders,” he said.

In court today, he said he had given Eagleton the gun, but said she wasn’t trained on how to use it properly. McDede said Eagleton had asked him to train her, but he never got around to it.

Afraid to go home, McDede then called police again to update them on the situation. Three patrol units and four police officers, including Thomason and Olson, arrived at the residence at about 6 a.m.

Olson testified today that he wasn’t involved in the domestic dispute altercation the night before, but because of Eagleton’s threatening phone calls, his supervisor called for backup. Olson said the officers parked three houses south of the residence and approached on foot with their guns drawn.

He said he and Thomason went through the back yard to the backdoor, while officers Brian Wheeler and Derek Fellig positioned at the front entrance. Olson said Wheeler and Fellig knocked on the front door asked Eagleton to come out.

“Over radio, we were told that Eagleton was knocking back and challenging officers to come in and get her,” Olson said. “She was yelling and screaming. It was inaudible.”

She said, “the house was set up to kill police officers,” Olson testified.

Olson said he looked through a window and saw Eagleton standing in what appeared to be a kitchen, holding a silver handgun.

“I looked in the window and saw her pointing a handgun at me,” Olson said. “I was fearful for my life. I yelled ‘gun’ and ducked. I saw Thomason dive out of the corner of my eye and that’s when I heard two shots fired.”

Thomason said he felt debris hitting him when he dove. After the incident, he said he found a bullet fragment lodged in his boot.

“I’ve never been so scared in my life,” Thomason said.

Shortly after firing two gunshots, Thomason said Eagleton came out of the house with nothing in her hands. He said he pointed his gun at her and told her to put her hands up. Eagleton ran back into the house screaming, he said.

McDede said in court today that his wife is on medication. Her medical condition is unknown at this time.

The standoff lasted more than five hours, according to police reports. The report said Eagleton released her 10-year-old grandson after an hour, unharmed.

Prosecutor Michelle Fleck said the grandson might be called to testify if the case proceeds to trial.

No one was injured during the standoff, but Olson said his supervisor called in SWAT team officers as a precaution. Eagleton was taken into custody after the standoff and booked at the Clark County Detention Center. She is being held on bail set at $140,000 for all charges, according to jail records.