Judge sets hearing for deputy

Senior Judge Edward Dannan set an Oct. 5 preliminary hearing for former Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Cypher who faces a felony burglary charge in addition to misdemeanor allegations he stalked and battered his wife.

Dannan, assigned to the case after East Fork Justice Jim EnEarl recused himself, said he needed additional time to review the file and the burglary charge before deciding whether to amend Cypher's $25,000 cash bail.

Cypher, who resigned Tuesday from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, has been in custody in Carson City Jail since his arrest Sept. 14.

His lawyer, Matthew Ence, argued Wednesday that Cypher, 37, was not a flight risk and the bail was "far in excess" of what is set for misdemeanors.

"He has 15 years with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. He has been a resident for 20 years. Mr. Cypher has a 6-year-old daughter and plans to stay with his mother, far away from the alleged victim," Ence said.

Carson City Assistant District Attorney Gerald Gardner, acting as special prosecutor, said the bail reflected the severity of the charges.

"He is highly trained in the use of force," Gardner said. "This represents a one-year course of conduct and abuse against the victim and other people in the sheriff's office."

Cypher's wife is employed by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

Ence objected to Gardner's comment that Jason Cypher "went into a rage" and was characterized as "homicidal" toward the victim by jail psychologist Dr. Joseph McEllistrem.

"Mr. Cypher should be presumed innocent until he's convicted," Ence said. "There is nothing in his background to indicate he would not appear."

The felony burglary charge was added Wednesday.

"The facts were sworn in an affidavit that the defendant was striking and beating his wife to the point where she felt the need to jump out of a moving car. She apparently lost consciousness temporarily, regained consciousness, and sought sanctuary in a vehicle driven by someone she knew," Gardner said.

According to reports, Cypher allegedly struck his wife through an open window in the second vehicle.

Cypher was on paid administrative leave until he resigned Tuesday.

Undersheriff Paul Howell said Wednesday that the administrative investigation sustained allegations of professional misconduct and that Cypher would have been terminated had he not resigned.

According to the investigation, Cypher violated obedience to laws and regulations, conduct toward superior and subordinate officers and associates and use of alcohol off-duty in public places.

"We found clear and convincing evidence of gross violations of department policy that, coupled with the criminal conduct, would have resulted in termination," Howell said.

Cypher was arrested Sept. 14 at Ironwood Drive and Highway 395 in Minden after a witness reportedly observed him striking his wife. A criminal complaint alleged he pulled her hair and punched her numerous times.

The stalking charge states that between July 2006 and September 2007, the defendant "terrorized, frightened and intimidated her" and would check her whereabouts.

Cypher's preliminary breath test for alcohol was .161, more than twice the legal limit for driving in Nevada, according to a Nevada Highway Patrol report.

If Cypher bails out, he will be placed on house arrest under the supervision of the Department of Alternative Sentencing.

If convicted of domestic battery, Cypher would lose his right to use or possess a firearm under federal law.

The investigation and prosecution were turned over to Carson City to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest because Cypher was a Douglas County employee.

EnEarl said Wednesday he felt there was no bias on his part, but he wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety and asked Dannan to hear the case. Dannan was appointed senior judge after he retired from Reno Justice Court.

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