Boundary County reviewing Nault case

Kootenai forwarded investigation of teen’s death due to conflict of interest

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Boundary County reviewing Nault case

COEUR d'ALENE — Nearly seven months after the drowning of 16-year-old Reggie Nault on Lake Coeur d'Alene, no charges have been filed related to the death and the Boundary County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing the case.

Nault, who was a member of the Coeur d'Alene High varsity baseball team, was with two male juvenile friends on July 21, 2015, when he either fell or jumped from a moving boat without a life jacket, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.

Nault's body was recovered from the lake on Aug. 3. Alcohol intoxication was a condition related to Nault's accidental death and the cause was asphyxia due to a freshwater drowning, according to a Kootenai County coroner's report released on Oct. 23.

The KCSO forwarded its investigative report on the case to the Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office on Jan. 14. The KCSO is not commenting further on the case until a decision is made by a prosecutor on whether to file charges, nor is it discussing whether it made any recommendations to the prosecutor on charges.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said his office forwarded the case to Boundary County the day after it received the report (Jan. 15) from the KCSO due to a conflict of interest.

"The conflict arose from my relationships with persons named in the investigation, as well as relationships between at least one other county employee and persons named in the investigation," McHugh wrote in an email to The Press. "I can't be more specific without identifying individuals named in the investigation."

Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas declined to comment on the case other than to say it is under review.

Lee James, a Coeur d'Alene attorney who represents Nault's mother, Brandi Jones, and sister, Dasha Drahos, said his clients remain in a painful but necessary holding pattern until the facts are revealed and review process runs its course.

"Reggie’s mother and sister remain resolute that a full investigation should be done and any criminal conduct prosecuted," James wrote in a statement. "They are not bringing any civil claims at this time. Whether or not they do will be determined by the facts. We don’t have all the facts because we don’t yet have the sheriff’s investigation. Fairness and prudence dictate that we should have those facts before making any decision to bring a civil claim."

James earlier stated: "We must learn before we can heal. A civil action would be based upon facts of wrongful conduct and the need for personal accountability."

The coroner's office, citing confidential information, did not release Nault's specific blood-alcohol content. He immediately disappeared in the water despite being a strong swimmer, according to sources.

The names of the juveniles who were with Nault in the boat are being withheld during the investigation.

McHugh said his office has referred six felony cases to Bonner County in the past year and one to Boundary County. It also takes referrals from other North Idaho counties and accepts and sends misdemeanor cases to Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls and Rathdrum prosecutors.

"There are many factors that can go into a referral decision, but in this (Nault) case the primary reason was the disparity in the number referrals to Bonner County as opposed to other counties," McHugh said. "While Bonner County has the largest staff and can handle more referrals, I try to make those requests on a fair basis. Referrals are accepted as a courtesy and at no cost to the referring county."

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