Crash, shooting on Willwood result in misdemeanors


Two men have been placed on probation for an altercation last July that culminated in one man firing shots at the other’s truck.

Park County prosecutors initially charged the two with a combined total of eight felony counts, but ultimately agreed to deals that resulted in Austin Maddox, 24, and Evan Haywood, 27, each pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of reckless endangering.

Haywood originally faced one felony count of aggravated assault for hitting and running Maddox’s truck off the road south of Powell.

After crashing, Maddox fired seven shots at Haywood’s truck, initially drawing seven felony counts of aggravated assault.

However, Maddox said he’d acted in self-defense and a Circuit Court judge had suggested last year that prosecutors would have a tough time proving the charge against Haywood.

Maddox served roughly two days in jail. If he can successfully complete two-and-a-half years of unsupervised probation, the case will be dismissed. Haywood, meanwhile, served 29 days in jail for his role in the altercation; prosecutors unsuccessfully argued for additional jail time. He’s currently serving five years of supervised probation in connection with an unrelated 2016 incident, in which he was caught with methamphetamine.

“We want everyone to know that we take all crimes seriously — especially those involving firearms and felonies,” Deputy Park County Prosecuting Attorney Leda Pojman said at Maddox’s December sentencing.

Pojman said her office agreed to defer its prosecution of Maddox and reduce the charges after a lot of thought and conversations with law enforcement.

Beyond the initial evidence gathered by the Park County Sheriff’s Office, “there are some facts — and the state’s not conceding anything by this statement, of course — ... that do lend to a decent self-defense argument, so that is one thing that the state took into consideration,” Pojman said, calling Maddox’s case “fairly complicated.” Other factors, she said, were that Maddox had no prior criminal history and was willing to accept responsibility for his actions.

There had been conflict between the two men prior to the July 29 altercation; Haywood had previously dated Maddox’s wife and, at the time of the incident, Maddox had a protection order that required Haywood to stay away from him.

Investigating Park County Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Cooke was told the altercation began after Haywood met and argued with Maddox’s wife near the Willwood Dam; Maddox then drove to the Willwood area.

The deputy wrote in charging documents that Haywood eventually began chasing after Maddox and his wife on Lane 13.

Maddox has said Haywood threatened him, hit his vehicle and knocked him off the road; Haywood contended to investigators that Maddox had actually rammed him.

“This was brought upon me,” Haywood said at his initial court appearance.

After crashing through a fence near Road 10, Maddox got out of his truck and fired seven shots; two hit Haywood’s truck.

“I felt my life was in danger and I didn’t know what else to do,” Maddox said at a court appearance last year.

In later pleading guilty to reckless endangering, Maddox acknowledged he’d fired the gun in a residential area — with his defense attorney, Tim Blatt, saying a mother and her children had been out on their porch at the time.

“... The manner in which you defended yourself against Mr. Haywood, clearly put other individuals who might have been in those personal residences in danger when you discharged that firearm several times. Would you agree with that?” Blatt asked his client.

“I do,” Maddox replied.

While on his 30 months of probation, Maddox must obey the law and avoid any contact with Haywood.

Haywood must similarly avoid Maddox and obey the law while also being required to stay out of bars, avoid alcohol, drugs, drug users and felons. His probation in the reckless endangering case — handed down at a February hearing — is set to last one year, but he’ll have to serve another four after that as part of overlapping probation he received in a drug case.

Powell police had stopped Haywood for a stop sign violation in December 2016 and, after a K-9 alerted to the presence of narcotics, searched his vehicle. Officers found 6.7 grams of methamphetamine inside a bottle labeled as engine degreaser, smoking pipes and materials with white residue, according to charging documents.

Last week, Haywood pleaded guilty to a felony count of possessing more than 3 grams of methamphetamine; another count of possessing meth with intent to deliver was dismissed.

Haywood had been free on a signature bond and awaiting a trial at the time of his altercation with Maddox.

The deal accepted by Haywood called for him to serve seven years of supervised probation in the drug case, but Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric reduced the figure to five years during the March 27 hearing.

“Seven just takes it out there too far …,” Skoric told presiding District Court Judge David Park.

Five to seven years of prison time was suspended.

Haywood served roughly 12 days in jail for the drug offense — including the morning of his sentencing, because he’d drawn a warrant for missing a scheduled court hearing in February.

In addition to being ordered to pay a few hundred dollars in court fines and fees, Maddox and Haywood were also ordered to pay back the Sheriff’s Office for what it cost to tow their two vehicles.