A Gallatin County judge set bail at $1 million Tuesday for an attempted rape suspect who escaped from the Bozeman police station last month.
Kevin Anthony Briggs, 28, had his first court appearance in Justice Court for felony charges of aggravated assault, attempted sexual intercourse without consent, assault on a peace officer and escape. He faces up to 140 years in prison.
Briggs, who was arrested Feb. 1 after a woman reported that he had assaulted and tried to rape her in her home, walked out of the Law and Justice Center and was on the run for three weeks until he was captured in Portland, Ore., by the U.S. Marshals Service.
In 2004, Briggs was sentenced in Lewis and Clark County for kidnapping and raping a 14-year-old girl when he was 16. He was also sentenced for burglary that same year.
Briggs also has two felony escape convictions, one from Lewis and Clark County in 2004 and one from Powell County in 2006.
Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert requested the $1 million bail.
“This defendant is obviously clever, obviously resourceful,” Lambert said. “He presents a great danger to the persons of this community in general, to the alleged victim of this crime in particular and he's an extreme flight risk.”
Defense attorney Eric Brewer said Briggs is presumed innocent and didn't recommend a bail amount. But Brewer called Lambert's $1 million bail request excessive.
Brewer added that after reading the charging documents and talking to Briggs, he found some discrepancies.
“There are definitely some differences here,” Brewer said. “I imagine we will end up in a trial in this matter and everything can come out.”
During his hearing, Briggs answered most questions yes or no. He said he'd be asking for a public defender and he asked for clarification on the maximum penalty for the escape charge.
After Justice Court Judge Bryan Adams set bail, Briggs asked one question.
“Am I able to speak regarding bail?” Briggs said. Brewer, however, advised him to remain silent, after which Briggs replied, “Thank you.”
According to charging documents:
On Feb. 1, a woman Briggs knew reported that Briggs had assaulted her.
The woman said the previous night she was contacted by Briggs and the woman reluctantly agreed to meet with him.
Briggs came to her residence and made strawberry fruit smoothies for the woman and him. After drinking the smoothie, the woman said she became tired and passed out.
Sometime later, the woman said she awoke and it appeared that Briggs was trying to sexually assault her, she said.
Briggs began strangling the woman. The woman said she was unable to breathe and began to pass out.
At some point, Briggs grabbed a knife from the kitchen. The woman struggled with Briggs to get control of the knife. After the woman got the knife from Briggs, he grabbed another knife and indicated he was going to kill himself.
The woman got the second knife away from Briggs and fled the apartment. She went to a friend's house to call police.
Court documents say that both the whites of the woman's eyes were nearly completely red and she had two black eyes as well. The doctor who treated the woman told investigators that it was the worst case of strangulation the doctor had ever seen and that the woman could have been killed from the assault.
At 5:16 a.m., officers went to Briggs' 2200 Dickerson St. home, where he arrived on foot shortly after.
Briggs tried to run from officers, but they were able to grab him. Briggs continued to push away and punched an officer in the right eye.
After subduing Briggs and walking him to a patrol car, Briggs pulled away and fled. Officers pursued him and caught him on South 23rd Avenue, just south of Koch Street.
Once at the Law and Justice Center, Briggs was left unattended in an interview room for 31 minutes. Wearing leg shackles and handcuffs attached to a belly belt, Briggs walked out of the police station at about 7:50 a.m.
A regional manhunt for Briggs ensued, with sightings of him in Missoula, Washington, Oregon and California. He was eventually arrested without incident while riding in a van in a Portland neighborhood.
Briggs was booked into the Gallatin County jail on Monday afternoon after his extradition from Oregon.
Lambert said Monday that he's received requests to prosecute four or five suspects who are accused of helping Briggs during his escape. Lambert said he expects to charge at least some of those with felony obstructing justice.