Ex-Aryan security chief sentenced in assault

Judge followed recommendation in plea bargain; Warfield will spend 2 to 5 years in prison

The Spokesman-Review/May 25, 1999
By Bill Morlin

File - The Spokesman-Review
Edward "Jesse'' Warfield

Former Aryan Nations security chief Edward "Jesse'' Warfield could spend as long as five years in prison under a sentence he received Monday.

The 44-year-old Missouri resident was sentenced for his role last summer in a car chase and shooting that began on a county road outside the Aryan Nations compound near Hayden Lake.

Warfield drove a pickup truck, with two armed men in back, that chased a car spotted outside the Aryan headquarters.

Warfield told investigators that he and the other two security guards thought the occupants of the car, Victoria and Jason Keenan, had fired a handgun toward the compound.

Detectives could find no evidence that shots were fired, and the Keenans said the noise was their old car backfiring.

The other two men, identified as John Yeager and Shane Wright, are still fugitives, sought for questioning by Kootenai County sheriff's detectives.

Warfield pleaded guilty on March 26 to an amended charge of aiding and abetting aggravated assault, which was drafted as part of a plea bargain.

Warfield originally was charged with two more-serious counts of aggravated assault, with a weapons enhancement. Conviction on those charges could have resulted in 25 years in prison for Warfield.

District Court Judge Craig Kosonen followed the prosecutor's recommendation and sentenced Warfield to the maximum term for the modified charge.

He will serve two years in prison, followed by a three-year indeterminate sentence. The Idaho parole board will decide how much of the three-year term Warfield will serve.

Warfield will serve.

He could be eligible for parole as early as November 2000.

Court-appointed defense attorney Monica Flood asked the judge to give her client credit for the seven months he's been in jail and release him on parole.

Flood said Warfield has no prior felony convictions and realizes his involvement in the assault was wrong.

"Mr. Warfield has disassociated himself from these people,'' Flood said.

But the judge later asked Warfield a series of questions, and it seemed clear from the answers that Warfield still strongly believes in the white-supremacy philosophy of the Christian Identity religion. He told the judge that he still sees no reason why the Aryans shouldn't be able to publicly demonstrate their cultural pride with parades in downtown Coeur d'Alene.

"I just don't see where that is such a hateful thing,'' Warfield told the court.

Kosonen later asked Warfield why there weren't any Jews or minorities attending activities at the Aryan Nations.

When he couldn't answer the question, the judge said, "Don't you see that it is not a religious movement, it is a racist movement?''

Earlier, Warfield admitted breaking the law.

"I apologize to the people of Idaho that I even have to be here today,'' Warfield said.

He explained that it wasn't the Aryan Nations symbol or the Nazi swastika that attracted him to Richard Butler's compound, but its formal name, Church of Jesus Christ Christian.

"I went up there under the pretense I would be learning about my Christian heritage,'' he said.

After his arrival in 1997, Warfield quickly became security chief and was in charge in the tense days prior to last July's Aryan parade in downtown Coeur d'Alene.

Warfield said there was vandalism at the Aryan compound and telephone death threats in the days prior to the parade, and security guards were nervous.

That's why he and the others gave chase when they thought they heard gunshots and spotted a car speeding away from the compound entrance on the evening of July 2, Warfield said.

The Keenans, who filed a civil rights suit in January against the Aryan Nations, chose not to appear for the sentencing.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lansing Haynes told the judge that the Keenans remain frightened, but their statements are part of a pre-sentence report kept from the public file.

The Keenans' fleeing car was hit by five bullets apparently fired by one of the two Aryan security guards in the bed of Warfield's pickup.

One of the bullets flattened a rear tire before the Keenans' car careened into a ditch, and they were rushed by the armed, pursuing guards.

"It was nothing more than terrorism, the way they handled this woman,'' Haynes told the court.

"We can only imagine the fear and terror this incident caused for them,'' the prosecutor said. In a second-row seat in the courtroom, Butler watched and listened. A half-dozen of his Aryan followers were in the courtroom.

As he was led from court, Warfield gave a stiff-arm wave with his right hand that appeared to be a Nazi salute.

Butler had no comment as he drove off in his Cadillac.

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