Man arrested in New Town standoff ordered held pending trial

2012-12-27T13:01:00Z 2012-12-27T13:12:44Z Man arrested in New Town standoff ordered held pending trialBy JENNY MICHAEL | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

A man arrested after a standoff in New Town last week will continue to be held in custody pending trial on an unrelated firearms charge.

Michael Jason Smith, 32, was charged last week in federal court with felon in possession of a firearm. Magistrate Judge Charles Miller ordered him held pending a detention hearing last week and on Thursday ordered that he continue to be held pending trial.

Smith barricaded himself in a home in New Town on Dec. 19 when law enforcement officials tried to arrest him on numerous charges, mostly narcotics charges out of Colorado, the FBI said. He was taken into custody on Dec. 20 after officials used a front-end loader to break down the home and end the standoff.

The firearms charge on which Smith appeared in court Thursday did not stem from the standoff. U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon has said additional charges stemming from the standoff are likely.

According to an affidavit from Derek Hill, a special agent and certified fire investigator with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, law enforcement officers responded to a room at Four Bears Casino on June 27 after a report of an odor of marijuana. Smith was inside with two other people. Smith consented to a search of the room, and officers found a Taurus 9 mm pistol, ammunition, drugs and drug paraphernalia in a black duffel bag, Hill said.

Initially, the three people denied ownership of the bag, and Smith implicated one of the other people in the hotel room. However, that man said the bag and items in it belonged to Smith.

Hill wrote in the affidavit that Smith was convicted in Colorado in January 2003 and February 2003 of felony dangerous drugs. He also was convicted in September 2003 of felony second-degree assault and was sentenced to six years in prison. Due to the convictions, he is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.

Smith was charged with Class C felony felon in possession of a firearm, Class A misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia and Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana in McKenzie County in June. A warrant was issued for his arrest in those cases on Oct. 12.

Ross Espeseth, Smith’s attorney, on Thursday asked Miller to place Smith in the custody of McKenzie County or the state of Colorado to deal with charges there.

“His preference is not to be warehoused this entire time,” Espeseth said, acknowledging that he and Smith understood it was unlikely Miller would release him from custody pending trial.

Miller refused after Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hagler said it was likely McKenzie County would drop the charges against Smith since he is facing a federal charge in the matter. Miller said he believes it also is unlikely that Colorado will want Smith back on its charges if Smith ends up with federal convictions and sentences.

A preliminary hearing in the federal case is scheduled for 3 p.m. Jan. 3.

Reach Jenny Michael at 701-250-8225 or

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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