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Jury finds Troy man guilty of criminal mischief

by Derrick Perkins Western News
| January 21, 2020 10:34 AM

A Lincoln County jury found Bruce Alan Basham of Troy guilty Jan. 15 of felony criminal mischief for his role in an attack on a homeless man over accusations of a stolen lawnmower.

Basham, 55, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in a state penitentiary and a $50,000 fine for the crime. The jury took just 34 minutes to reach a verdict, according to court documents.

Authorities arrested Basham in August after investigating an alleged assault on a man near the Troy airport. Writing in an affidavit, Deputy Brent Faulkner of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said he met the victim after he had limped his damaged vehicle to the Troy dispatch facility.

The victim told Faulkner he was meeting with Basham and William Arnold to discuss a missing lawnmower. The victim was accused of stealing it and giving it to another individual, court documents said.

But instead of talking, Arnold allegedly punched the victim in the throat upon arrival. Afraid for his life, the victim grabbed a broken shovel handle from his vehicle and swung it at Arnold, court documents said.

During the fight, the victim said he lost his grip and dropped the makeshift club. Arnold picked it up and chased the victim, “repeatedly yelling that he would kill [the victim],” the affidavit said.

When the victim escaped into his vehicle, his assailant turned the bat on the Jeep, shattering several windows, damaging a CB radio and breaking the turn signal. Basham then used his vehicle to ram the Jeep, causing major damage, including a broken radiator.

Investigating the scene, Faulkner wrote that he found evidence matching the victim’s description, including possible radiator fluid, tail light fragments and broken glass.

“All of the evidence was in position on the ground consistent with the account that [the victim] gave,” Faulkner reported. “The presence and relative position of all the evidence completely corroborated [the victim’s] account.”

As authorities began searching for the two men, Faulkner arranged for the victim to stay in the home of a local couple.

Not long after, authorities pulled over Arnold’s truck. Arnold was in the passenger seat while another man drove the vehicle, court documents said.

The driver gave Faulkner an account of the incident, telling the deputy that Arnold and Basham determined the victim and another man, known only as “Barry,” had stolen the lawnmower and gifted it to a third party in Libby. After the fight at the airport, Arnold allegedly went home to pick up a revolver and deal with “Barry,” the driver told authorities.

But Basham left without Arnold, leaving him without the gun or a ride, the driver said, according to court documents. So the two men were out searching for Basham, the driver said.

Authorities arrested Arnold, who later admitted to the incident, but said the victim swung the club first. The blow struck Arnold on the ear, which left him furious, he told Faulkner. He did not recall the ramming of the victims vehicle or breaking the windows with the makeshift bat, according to court documents.

Basham drove by during the interview and was promptly stopped. Despite damage to his vehicle, Basham denied being in a collision or other traffic accident, according to court documents.

Upon further inspection, Faulkner noticed the tire tracks matched those found at the scene and the taillights on Basham’s truck corresponded with evidence collected at the airport, according to the affidavit.

And Faulkner found the aforementioned makeshift bat sitting in plain view on the vehicle’s floorboard.

Basham was subsequently charged with felony criminal mischief while Arnold was arrested for misdemeanor criminal mischief and assault.

Basham’s trial began Jan. 14. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24.