Moscow PD Buries Evidence in Sticker Case for More than a Year

MOSCOW, ID—“There is no credible explanation for MPD’s failure to disclose this evidence as part of the January 22 subpoena response,” defense lawyer Sam Creason said about video evidence that was released last week at a hearing. The Moscow Police Department video is key evidence in the infamous Soviet Moscow Sticker case, involving Nathan Wilson and his two sons, Rory and Seamus.   

This video evidence was released by MPD last week during a hearing which involved testimony from MPD officers under oath. This hearing was to determine the legality of the initial interrogation of the Wilson boys by MPD back in October of 2020.  

Before the hearing and before going under oath, an MPD officer notified prosecutors that video evidence did in fact exist on the night of the sticker incident. 

Sergeant Gunderson, who was one of the first two MPD officers on the scene on the night in question, notified prosecutors that Officer Waters—who had been the responsible officer on the scene—captured video of the incident with his squad car’s dash cam. 

Gunderson said that footage was in MPD’s system, and that it had been in MPD’s possession from the very beginning of the case. 

This footage had been illegally held back from the defense by MPD in the normal course of discovery. Despite public record requests, it had still been held back by MPD. Even when a subpoena was issued in January, it was still held back illegally by MPD. 

More than a year has now passed since Moscow city prosecutors (and Latah County) made history by filing the city’s first ever criminal charges against someone for posting a sign or a flier on a pole without permission. Thousands of signs and fliers and stickers have been posted on poles in the city before and since this incident. 

The incident happened in October of 2020, when the memorable, red stickers that provoked prosecution read, “Soviet Moscow: Enforced Because We Care”. 

One of the Soviet Moscow stickers.

In response, city attorney, Liz Warner filed thirteen misdemeanor charges against Nathan Wilson and his son Rory Wilson, and Latah County prosecutors followed the city’s lead in filing against the juvenile defendant, now identified as Seamus Wilson. MPD Officers stopped the Wilson boys under suspicion of placing the non-damaging stickers on poles in downtown Moscow.  

In the politically charged case that has come to be known by some locals as Sticker Gate, one significant issue has been between defense and prosecution over whether prosecutors were illegally refusing or simply unable to provide defense with any video or audio evidence of the evening when officers stopped the Wilson boys.

The debate about the video has now been settled by the MPD admitting that the evidence exists. 

Video and audio evidence surrounding the night is crucial because Rory Wilson was cuffed and interrogated without receiving a Miranda warning, and Seamus was separated from his adult brother and interrogated—before and after he identified himself as a juvenile—without receiving a Miranda warning and without a lawyer or guardian present. 

What exactly was asked and said, the length of time the boys were interrogated, and Rory’s behavior before being cuffed and put on the ground, are all key questions. Nathan Wilson was at home asleep at the time. 

After an anonymous video making fun of MPD for burying evidence in this case appeared on Facebook, defense received a different MPD video of the citations being issued days after the fact. But video of the initial incident was not released. 

Anonymous Video making fun of MPD burying evidence, from

MPD officers have now acknowledged under oath, that the second video had been tagged and stored in the same case file immediately next to the video file they had been withholding, and that they continued to withhold until just last week. 

In the interim, MPD repeatedly represented to the defense, to the court, and to the public that no video of any kind existed.

“This was already textbook malicious and selective prosecution,” Nathan Wilson said. “I’m glad people can post hundreds of fliers on poles searching for a lost dog. But the city clearly reveals its prejudice in ignoring those but prosecuting us. And while I haven’t been to law school, even I know that burying evidence and defying a subpoena is a much bigger deal than posting stickers.”

stickers on a pole in Moscow
One of many public utility poles in Moscow covered in stickers but left alone by law-enforcement. Not once in the history of Moscow has there been charges filed, or any legal action, for stickers on poles.

Keith Scholl, the Latah County prosecutor handling the juvenile case, was not at all happy with the recent developments. Over the course of the last year, Scholl and city prosecutor, Liz Warner, have repeatedly and falsely maintained to the court that video evidence had not been provided because it simply did not exist. Judge Megan Marshall correctly identified this claim as suspicious when she first heard it many months ago.

“Sanctions may be in order,” Scholl admitted to Judge Marshall at the hearing last week. “But this kind of thing does happen.” He also said that the existence of the video was a complete surprise to him. Liz Warner did not comment in any way.

Defense was finally able to view the full 40 minute video the day before the hearing on the illegality of the interrogations. 

One very significant problem with the video: no audio was included.

MPD now insists that no audio exists.

“We’ve never heard that before,” Nathan Wilson said. “No pun intended.”

After finally viewing the long-suppressed video, defense counsel, Sam Creason of Lewiston, immediately reached out to both prosecutors under the assumption that they would be voluntarily dismissing the year-old cases that have already been reduced to single misdemeanor counts.  

“It is extremely disappointing to see that the officers involved not only knew of the evidence, but viewed it and maintained it,” Creason wrote.  He had repeatedly raised questions about the “absence” of video or audio evidence throughout the past year.

“A review of the video demonstrates why MPD did not want this evidence disclosed,” Creason said. “And I am hoping that we reach the day when the audio is produced. The officers’ conduct that night was improper, and they have put [the prosecutor’s] office in this position.” 

Surprisingly, prosecutors are still determined to push forward, although Keith Scholl did file a motion to delay last week’s hearing. Creason, however, wanted no further delay, preferring to get officers under oath immediately, and so the hearing proceeded. 

In testimony, all three officers—Nunes, Waters, and Gunderson—who were directly involved in the sticker interrogations testified to possessing recording devices at the time of the arrests. Two more officers passed through or near the scene, one of whom was also wearing a mic. The squad car that captured the video was also equipped to capture audio. 

No audio of that night has yet been produced by MPD. 

Sworn testimony and the MPD case file audit log also revealed that Nunes, Waters, and Gunderson at least had accessed and reviewed the footage of the incident in the last year, while the department was still denying its existence.

“Keith Scholl was obviously genuinely distressed that MPD sat on this evidence,” Nathan Wilson said. “I really do appreciate that. Although I have no idea what he thinks the county gains from his continued participation in the city’s little holy war. And I also appreciate Sergeant Gunderson’s honesty prior to going under oath, although I wish someone in the department had blown the whistle ten months ago.”

What happens next remains to be seen. MPD has offered no explanation or comment of any kind. Nor have prosecutors. 

Judge Marshall could issue sanctions. If further testimony reveals that city attorneys were aware that evidence was being suppressed, the consequences could be far more significant. 

For now, city attorney Liz Warner clearly believes that it is still in the City of Moscow’s best interests to continue prosecuting the Wilsons for protest stickers that rubbed the city wrong more than a year ago, even though her prosecution has brought those stickers more attention than they ever would have received otherwise. And Bill Thompson’s Latah County office is still content to follow Warner’s lead.

“If my boys had just gotten tickets a year ago, I probably would have written one appeal and then just paid the fine, even though I know my sons didn’t do anything illegal, and the cops did,” Nathan Wilson said. “But starting at thirteen misdemeanor counts? And then burying evidence and coming after us for more than a year? For some reason, the city has started to march into career-ending territory now, and I have no idea why or what they possibly stand to gain. Meanwhile, our damages and civil claims are really starting to pile up. We’d be exhausted if it weren’t for the support we’ve received from around the country. But with that support, we’re more than happy to hire a stable of lawyers to go the distance on this thing if we need to. If someone sane at the city doesn’t end this soon, it is going to get really, really embarrassing and even more expensive.”

Last week, the court heard testimony from officers under oath for the first time, as well as arguments from defense and prosecution on whether the interrogations of the Wilson boys were, in fact, illegal. 

Judge Marshall is expected to rule on that matter on November 5th.



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