‘There’s so much hurt in this room’: ISP specialist pleads guilty to domestic battery

Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman file

In an emotional Wednesday sentencing, an Idaho State Police specialist admitted to battering his wife after a verbal argument turned physical.

Ada County Magistrate Judge Kira Lynn Dale placed Derek James Emmert, 38, on four years of supervised probation in lieu of jail time after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors: domestic battery in the presence of a child and disturbing the peace. He was initially charged with felony domestic battery, but the charge was reduced as part of the plea agreement.

Emmert, who has been with state police since 2015, was also given a withheld judgment, which means his guilty plea will not be recorded as a conviction if he follows the terms of his probation.

“There’s so much hurt in this room,” Dale said just before handing down Emmert’s sentence. The terms of his probation were agreed upon in September by the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office and Boise-based lawyer Ryan Tatum, who is representing Emmert, as part of a binding plea agreement.

On Aug. 24 Emmert used “force” or “violence” on his wife by grabbing her by the wrist and arm and pushing her with his hands out of a bedroom, according to an amended criminal complaint reviewed by the Idaho Statesman and a statement made in court by Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Jordan Hendry. The battery occurred in the presence of three teenagers.

He also admitted to “willfully” and “maliciously” disturbing the peace of his 13-year-old son by pushing his wife into him. The second charge was added later on. The Statesman is choosing to withhold the names of the victims.

“The psychological injury is far worse than anything physical,” his wife said in a statement Wednesday. “You can recover from physical injury, but what has been done to my heart and soul is irreparable.”

Emmert on paid leave with Idaho State Police

Emmert, as of Wednesday, was still on paid administrative leave, Idaho State Police spokesperson Aaron Snell told the Statesman by email. Emmert gets paid $34.50 an hour, according to Transparent Idaho, a website from the state controller’s office that discloses state employment history.

“As this is a personnel issue, I am unable to provide information,” Snell wrote in the email. “However, every case must be reviewed individually and ISP is currently following procedures to address this matter.”

It’s unclear how Emmert’s misdemeanor conviction will affect his employment, and Snell declined to comment further on his employment status. Tatum in court Wednesday said that Emmert’s “actions ended his law enforcement career.”

“Everything is a glaring reminder of what has been ripped away from me,” his wife said. “The future we were planning for and looking towards is gone. I dread what I once looked forward to: birthdays, holidays, our yearly family traditions.”

Emmert is expected to complete 24 modules of domestic violence treatment within 18 months and complete 40 hours of community service within 20 months. There is also a no-contact order in place, which excludes Emmert from contacting the victims in the case.

He also cannot possess a firearm or other weapons during his probation, and it is possible he could lose the ability to ever posses a firearm due to federal regulations.

Part of Emmert’s plea agreement states that he cannot “go to or be on the premise” of any bars or other similar business. He also cannot use or consume alcohol, narcotics or other drugs unless they are prescribed by a doctor and is subject to random breath, blood or urine tests.

Emmert can ask to be placed on unsupervised probation if his probation officer gives him permission and once he’s completed treatment and paid any fees, according to the plea agreement. He is expected to pay $345 in court costs.

“There’s absolutely no excuse — none whatsoever — for my behavior during this incident and prior to that,” Emmert said in a statement to the court Wednesday.