COEUR d'ALENE — Since beginning his incarceration last year in Kootenai County jail, the man accused of murdering Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore has allegedly fashioned weapons, made escape plans, and described his actions as noble.
Jonathan Renfro, a 26-year-old Rathdrum resident who allegedly admitted to killing Moore in a Coeur d'Alene neighborhood on May 5, 2015, faces the death penalty if found guilty of charges associated with the incident. On Wednesday and Thursday, Kootenai County District Court Judge Lansing Haynes ruled on multiple motions associated with the case, including allowing prosecutors to add Renfro's alleged conduct in jail to a list of "aggravating factors" the prosecution can use to attempt to persuade a jury to agree death is the appropriate punishment should he be convicted.
"Furthermore, the state has recently learned that the defendant, prior to committing the instant murder, in speaking with a female the day prior showed her the gun used to kill Sgt. Moore," the motion to amend aggravating factors states. "The defendant boasted that a bullet within the magazine was a 'cop killer' bullet. When asked about what he would do if stopped by law enforcement, the defendant claimed he would go down murdering police officers."
According to the motion, the prosecutor's office has been "closely monitoring" Renfro's actions in jail, and recently discovered the list of factors that were submitted to Haynes. Renfro, according to the motion, has "laughed and smiled about committing certain aspects" of his crimes while discussing the charges via video phone, court records state.
"The defendant has justified his actions as being noble — claiming that cops will now think twice before being aggressive with individuals," the motion adds.
Haynes granted the prosecution's motion on Wednesday and, on Thursday, heard several other motions to the case — including a request by Renfro's team of public defenders to not allow evidence, observations and statements taken or gathered during Renfro's apprehension by multiple law enforcement agencies. Kootenai County Deputy Public Defender Jay Logsdon told Haynes the defense believes at least two factors of Renfro's apprehension by police were "unreasonable" and violated Renfro's rights under the Fourth Amendment.
The first unreasonable factor, Logsdon said, took place after a Kootenai County Sheriff's Office K-9 located Renfro hiding in the axle area of a trailer in a dirt parking lot on the west side of Wal-Mart in Post Falls. Approximately nine officers from various law enforcement agencies converged on the scene and, according to Logsdon, all began yelling orders at the man.
"It seems odd that there was no conversation among officers of what to do if they found the suspect," Logsdon said. "A lot of people all yelling orders makes it highly likely that Mr. Renfro will not behave accordingly."
The second factor related to the actions of the sheriff's office K-9. Logsdon said although it was appropriate for the dog to be used to locate Renfro, there is nothing in sheriff's office policy to indicate why the dog would be used to apprehend the wanted man by biting him.
"And officers permitted the biting to continue as they formulated a game plan," Logsdon added.
Kootenai County prosecutors, however, argued the defense's line of reasoning did not meet legal muster because it failed to pass a "but for" test which would ask "but for the 'unreasonable' seizure, evidence would not have been found." The prosecution also noted Renfro was wanted for significant crimes, which they said justified the use of force when apprehending him.
"It is abundantly clear that the force used by police under these circumstances was reasonable in every sense," Haynes said prior to denying the defense motion.
Haynes also denied two more motions by the defense, which asked the judge to preclude the death penalty in the case. He will hear more motions on the matter today. A jury trial has been tentatively scheduled Feb. 6, 2017.