Man accused of assault on minor denied release

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Justin Phillip Hoover (Paul Sievers/The Western News)

A Libby man who is charged with felony partner or family member assault based on trail camera footage of him physically assaulting his child was denied release on his own recognizance at a Feb. 4 hearing in Montana 19th Judicial District Court.

Justin Hoover appeared before Judge Matt Cuffe to request bail modification and to be released on his own recognizance Feb. 4. Hoover’s attorney, Jessica Polan, had initially requested a postponement of the hearing pending a witness that was supposed to testify on his behalf.

However, the witness did not show, and Polan called Hoover to the stand.

Polan asked Hoover if he was able to afford to pay the $25,000 bond set for his release. Hoover said he could not. She then asked where he would live if he should be released. Hoover replied that he would live at his father’s house.

“Is he a police officer, is that correct?” asked Polan.

“Yes,” Hoover replied.

Polan informed the court and Hoover that the primary concern with Hoover’s family is that his child — whom he was arrested for allegedly assaulting — would be at risk should Hoover be released from jail.

Hoover began crying, and said the only thing he could do was to give his word that he would not attempt to approach his child.

Since 1996, according to court documents, Hoover has been in the court system on several occasions for assault and causing bodily injuries to family members.

In January 2017, court records show Hoover’s partner, Candace Barbe, reported to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office that Hoover had attacked her vehicle with an axe while she was in it. Deputy John Davis said in his report that, when he walked outside to observe the vehicle, he saw a “double blade axe was sticking out of the vehicle’s headlight on the passenger side.”

Hoover was most recently arrested for partner or family member assault, causing injury to partner or family member - third offense, on Jan. 11.

That arrest followed Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Game Warden Weston Oedekoven contacting Deputy Davis regarding the trail camera footage of Hoover assaulting his child.

Davis reported that in the footage he witnessed two subjects, Hoover and his child, loading firewood into Hoover’s truck. In the footage, Hoover struck his child on the face twice with an open hand, with the second blow appearing more violent and nearly knocking the minor off his feet.

Hoover was also seen in the video grabbing the minor by the front of his shirt, near his neck, according to the report, and “throwing him to the ground.” After the assault, Davis reported it appeared Hoover spat in the minor’s face.

He then yelled at the child, telling him to “clean up his bloody nose and quit whining.”

Davis reported that he subsequently arrested Hoover at his home.

Two days after Hoover’s appearance on Feb. 4 to ask for a bail modification and request to be released on his own recognizance, his request to be released was denied by Cuffe. His bail modification, however, was approved. It was lowered from $25,000 to $10,000. As of press time, Hoover had not posted bail.

Hoover had an initial appearance in Lincoln County Justice Court on Jan. 14 before Lincoln County Justice of the Peace Jay C. Sheffield. Sheffield imposed conditions of supervised pretrial release and a $25,000 bond.

On Jan. 28 Hoover was arraigned before Cuffe, and pleaded not guilty.

This story was completed with reporting by Suzanne Resch and and Ben Kibbey.

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