Sumpter man charged in tavern crash

By Chris Collins September 11, 2013 08:51 am

By Chris Collins

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A Sumpter man was arraigned Monday in Baker County Circuit Court on charges related to an Aug. 9 incident at the Elkhorn Saloon at Sumpter in which he is accused of trying to hurt people because of their sexual orientation.

Delbert Gene Phillips, 68, is being held at the Baker County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

A Baker County grand jury indicted Phillips on charges of driving under the influence, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, three counts of attempted first-degree assault and eight counts of recklessly endangering another person.

District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said the attempted first-degree assault charges, Class B felonies, are based on the grand jury finding that Phillips attempted to run his pickup truck into the Elkhorn Saloon building to intentionally hurt people inside based on their sexual orientation.

The indictment alleges that Phillips used the pickup to “intentionally attempt to cause serious physical injury” to Karen Clark, Stephanie Curwick and Lily Summers. 

“The State further alleges that the offense was motivated entirely or in part by the sexual orientation of the victim,” the indictment states.

Phillips had been in the Elkhorn Saloon prior to the incident. His blood-alcohol content was .15 percent or more when he rammed his vehicle into a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado pickup owned by Dick Newman and Lynette Bollington of Sumpter, according to the indictment. Damage to the Chevrolet pickup truck, which was pushed into the Elkhorn Saloon, was at least $5,000.

Damage to the building, owned by Sharyn Epler, was $10,000 or more. The first-degree criminal mischief charges, Class C felonies, are related to damage done to the building and the vehicle.

Victims of the charges of recklessly endangering another person, Class A misdemeanors, were Clark, Curwick, Summers, Robert Scott Forster, Sharyn Epler, Angela Anderson, Richard Epler and Richard Newman.