Blake bound over to district court

James Ryan Blake stands in court as attorney Tony Liker listens.

ELKO – A man suspected of shooting another man in the Smith’s parking lot was bound over to district court following a proposed plea agreement with the District Attorney’s office.

James Ryan Blake, 30, of Elko is accused of shooting Michael May after May allegedly struck Blake’s car with a baseball bat on Dec. 9.

May, who was shot in the shoulder and stomach, drove himself to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital for treatment.

Blake turned himself in to authorities the next day.

In the proposed agreement, Blake will plead no contest to battery with a deadly weapon and grand larceny of a firearm when arraigned in Elko District Court, after which he would serve a maximum of 10 years in prison.

The suspect was originally charged with attempted murder.

Blake’s defense attorney, Tony Liker, struck the agreement minutes before a continuation of the preliminary hearing Thursday in Elko Justice Court.

The court also heard a motion entered by Blake’s previous court-appointed attorney, Gary Woodbury, to reduce his bail from $105,000 and release him on his own recognizance.

Liker appealed for Blake’s release before Judge Mason Simons, arguing that Blake felt threatened by May and others prior to the shooting incident.

“He wasn’t looking to shoot someone,” said Liker. “He was ducking the situation.”

Liker also told the court that due to Blake’s medical condition, he needs a few months to get treatment and “to get his affairs in order” before sentencing.

Simons asked Liker to explain Blake’s alleged involvement in another shooting incident in August. In that shooting, Fifth Street Bridge was closed for three hours.

No charges were filed or weapon located from that incident. Earlier testimony from Elko Police Sgt. Rick Palhegyi revealed that Blake had been involved.

“They were trying to break into his house,” explained Liker.

“He was investigated, never arrested,” added Liker, who maintained it was another self-defense incident.

Chief District Attorney Chad Thompson disagreed that Blake was not a risk to the public, stating that Blake initially stole a gun used in the parking lot shooting.

“He has demonstrated bad judgement with guns already in a short span of four months,” said Thompson.

“In that case,” said Thompson referring to the August incident, “if it was self-defense, he ran again, he hid the gun. They never found the gun in that one, and then this case.”

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“He’s a big risk for something else really bad happening,” Thompson continued. “Based on his history, facts of this case, and his bad decision making, we would oppose any reduction of bail.”

When offered by Simons to respond to Thompson’s statements, Liker addressed the stolen gun issue.

Liker told the court Blake’s sister, Jessica Elliott, gave Blake the gun, telling Blake it was hers, without the knowledge of the gun’s real owner, Elko County Sheriff deputy Ritchie Lespade.

“She’s going to say that at the sentencing if need be,” said Liker.

Before giving his decision on the bail motion, Simons asked Blake if wanted to make a statement.

“I’m glad no one else was hurt,” said Blake. “Even now I regret shooting Michael. I regret both incidents.”

“One of my fundamental responsibilities is to ensure the safety of the community,” said Simons before announcing his decision.

“I have concerns shared by the DA that Mr. Blake might pose a potential risk to the community if out on his own recognizance,” Simons said before denying the motion and remanding Blake back to the Elko County Jail to await arraignment in district court.

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Staff writer for the Elko Daily Free Press

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