Judge: Speed it up

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A First District Judge ordered attorneys to speed up the case of a convicted killer from Lewiston who violated his parole when he was captured in February near Bayview after a brawl with a police dog and a deputy.

Before granting a final continuance, District Judge Richard Christensen told attorneys Friday that the case, which had already been continued once, has dragged on long enough.

“I don’t expect this court to grant another continuance,” Christensen said. “This case is long in the tooth at this time.”

Christensen continued until November the case of Steven Patrick Droogs, 40, who is charged with assaulting a police officer, a felony, and two misdemeanors including obstructing and lying to police. The latest continuance will also vacate a Sept. 18 trial.

Droogs has been in the Kootenai County jail since he was arrested in February after being shot with a Taser, pepper sprayed, and beating a K9 while attempting to elude Kootenai County deputies.

He was convicted of manslaughter in 2005 for the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Travis L. Palmer at a Lewiston Jack in the Box restaurant.

When he was nabbed by county deputies last winter, Droogs had an outstanding warrant for fleeing probation, and for an aggravated assault that occurred since his release from prison in 2016.

Kootenai County deputy public defender Jed Nixon, who represents Droogs and who filed a motion to suppress evidence in the case, told Christensen he needed more time to discuss mediation with prosecutors.

Prosecutors, however, said they had not received a brief from Nixon, so they have been unable to prepare for an upcoming suppression hearing.

The flutter was ample grounds for one final continuance, Christensen said.

Christensen vacated the suppression hearing and ordered Nixon to meet with prosecutors within 10 days in an effort to find a resolution or prepare for trial.

Deputies said Droogs appeared to be intoxicated Feb. 3 as he walked along Perimeter Road around 7:20 a.m. Droogs allegedly gave a deputy a false name and fled on foot when the deputy asked if he had a gun. When Droogs refused to stop, the deputy shot him with a Taser, but Droogs continued to run.

He reportedly told the deputy he was armed with an assault rifle and told the deputy to kill him because he wasn’t going back to prison. The foot chase led to a home on the 17000 block of Perimeter Road. Deputies got permission from the owner to search the residence and discovered Droogs in the attic. He failed to come out after being sprayed and the Kootenai County K-9 was deployed.

“Droogs choked and punched the K-9 and then also punched the deputy several times,” according to a sheriff’s office news release.

The dog subdued Droogs and he was taken into custody.

In the 2004 fatal shooting in Lewiston, Droogs, who has an extensive criminal history, testified the gun that killed Palmer had accidentally discharged in his pocket when he was digging for change. He kept the gun as protection, he said in court records, because he was dealing methamphetamine.

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