Preliminary hearing underway for suspect in judge threats

By  | 

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - Day one of the preliminary hearing into the case of a series of threats against a Carson City judge included the judge taking the stand as a witness.

The hearing in the case of John Aston is scheduled to last three days; it began in Carson City Justice Court September 6, 2017.

Judge John Tatro described how he and his wife were awakened early one morning in 2012 by two shots through their home front door. He said they were terrified and called 911, then he retrieved a handgun and got his wife to safety in a bathroom.

He then described a Christmas card he got in the mail two years later, which he took as two messages. One was the printed warning, "You will die". The other was the return address on the envelope, from his wife's office. He took that as a message that the person sending the card knew where the judge's wife worked.

In 2015, Judge Tatro's wife found two jugs of flammable liquid outside the garage; there were also matches, some burned.

Tatro told the court the threats had changed his life, and that of his wife, as they ended up constantly on guard at home and in public. They also both armed themselves, as they felt terrorized.

Aston himself sat in a wheelchair in jail garb during the hearing, never conferring with his attorney, only looking up occasionally when evidence was being presented.

Tatro testified he spent years before Aston's arrest wondering if the threats were coming from someone he had seen in court, and he never considered Aston. But Aston had appeared before Tatro, on a traffic charge, and they disagreed in court.

Earlier on day one of the hearing, the first witness was a VA hospital detective who, while investigating Aston as part of an ID theft case, found in Aston's belongings a newspaper clipping about the Tatro case. When he asked Aston about it, the response was an expletive.

District Attorney Jason Woodbury says expects the hearing to last the full three days, as he has several witnesses to call.

Click for earlier stories about this case.