Seated in a wheelchair with his arm in a sling and recovering from two gunshot wounds, Eugene Statelen, 42, appeared in Missoula Justice Court to hear charges that he tried to run down two sheriff's deputies on New Year's Eve.

According to court documents, Statelen, who had been drinking and taking drugs, allegedly assaulted his wife at their home in Evaro. Several Missoula County Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene.

At one point, Statelen attempted to run down Captain Tony Rio and Deputy Jace Dicken with his vehicle. Rio fired two shots into the vehicle, striking Statelen in the shoulder and the back of the head. He spent several days in the hospital and was released to the custody of the Missoula County Jail on Monday.

Milt Datsopoulos
photo by Peter Christian

Appearing from the jail via video, Statelen was represented in the courtroom by renowned criminal attorney Milt Datsopoulos who was hired by Statelen's family. Datsopoulos asked Judge Karen Orzech about the possibility of having Statelen moved from the jail due to the serious nature of his wounds.

"I just want to state for the record that Mr. Statelen has just suffered a major gunshot wound to the head and he's had some surgery by a neurosurgeon," Datsopoulus said. "With that in mind, I'm not sure that Mr.Statelen is entirely cognizant of what's going on."

Kirsten Pabst, making her first appearance in justice court in her new role as Missoula County Attorney requested that Statelen be held on bail, due to the serious nature of the charges against him.

"Your honor, we would ask the court to set bail in this case at $50,000," Pabst said. "Mr. Statelen's alleged behavior which was caught on video, demonstrates that he's a significant flight risk and is a danger to the community."

Datsopoulos pointed out that Statelen's family was in court, and was willing to provide care in their home in Missoula, however Judge Orzech said Statelen could be cared for by the medical staff at the jail until an order of protection could be signed to keep Statelen away from his wife.

Orzech ordered Statelen held on $50,000 bail and to be closely monitored by the medical staff at the jail. She said a reduction in bail might be considered in a week, once the order of protection was in force.

Datsopoulos will meet Statelen in person for the first time on Wednesday morning at the jail.