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Woman charged with manslaughter in death of former Casper resident killed in line of duty
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Woman charged with manslaughter in death of former Casper resident killed in line of duty

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — An Idaho Falls woman has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to the death of Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office deputy Wyatt Maser on May 18.

Maser, who grew up in Casper, was responding to a single-vehicle crash involving Jenna Nichole Holm, 35, when he was hit by a fellow deputy responding to the scene near the intersection of Bone Road and Lincoln Road.

According to the probable cause affidavit by an Idaho State Police detective Michael Cox, Holm ignored orders from Deputy Benjamin Bottcher attempting to assist her, and at one point threatened Maser with a machete as he exited his patrol vehicle.

The affidavit states Bottcher recognized Holm from when he had worked in the Bonneville County Jail.

Holm reportedly backed away from Maser after he drew his gun.

After Maser informed Bonneville County Dispatch that he had Holm at gunpoint, Holm began walking north and ignored the deputies’ commands. Bottcher and Maser told her to drop the machete, that she was at risk of being hit while walking in the road, and that they wanted to help her.

Bottcher drew his Taser. Holm reportedly ran toward a truck owned by a bystander who had reported the crash to law enforcement and began hitting something in the truck bed with the machete. The affidavit states there was a dog in the bed of the truck, though it’s unclear whether the dog was what Holm was attempting to hit.

Bottcher used the Taser on Holm, and she fell to the ground.

The affidavit states that as Maser crossed the road, he was focused on Holm due to the threat she had posed to the deputies, the dog and the truck owner.

As Maser crossed the road to apprehend Holm, Sgt. Randy Flegel was arriving on scene and reportedly hit Maser with his vehicle. Maser succumbed to his injuries after deputies and emergency medical services attempted to revive him.

Hundreds attended the funeral for Maser, who was born in Thermopolis and graduated Kelly Walsh High School in 2014.

Flegel was placed on paid administrative leave after the incident. Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Sgt. Bryan Lovell said Flegel has since returned to work in an administrative role, but is not acting as a law enforcement officer, pending the results of an internal investigation.

Though Holm is not accused of directly killing Maser, the affidavit states she should be held partially responsible because her reported crimes caused Maser to be distracted, leading to his death.

There is legal precedent for charging a suspect for the death of an officer they did not directly cause. In 2019, two men in New York were charged with second-degree murder after an officer was killed by friendly fire. Police were responding to a robbery the men were accused of committing.

Holm is charged with involuntary manslaughter, punishable with up to 10 years in prison, and aggravated assault, punishable with up to five years in prison. Her bond was set at $100,000.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Bonneville County Courthouse.

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